Phagocytosis, a cellular immune response in insects
Keywords:insect, phagocytosis, hemocyte, innate immunity, signal transduction
Insects like many other organisms are exposed to a wide range of infectious agents. Defense
against these agents is provided by innate immune systems, which include physical barriers, humoral responses, and cellular responses. The humoral responses are characterized by the production of antimicrobial peptides, while the cellular defense responses include nodulation, encapsulation, melanization and phagocytosis. The phagocytic process, whereby cells ingest large particles, is of fundamental importance for insects’ development and survival. Phagocytic cells recognize foreign particles through a series of receptors on their cell membrane for pathogen-associated molecules. These receptors in turn initiate a series of signaling pathways that instruct the cell to ingest and eventually destroy the foreign particle. This review describes insect innate humoral and cellular immune functions with emphasis on phagocytosis. Recent advances in our understanding of the phagocytic cell types in various insect species; the receptors involved and the signaling pathways activated during phagocytosis are discussed.