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A new publication in the journal EMBO Reports ( sheds new light on the function of immune genes induced in response to infections. Most of the induced genes characterized so far code for antimicrobial molecules that neutralize or eliminate pathogens. In this study conducted on the Drosophila model organism, Dominique Ferrandon, Samuel Liégeois and their colleagues identify and characterize genes regulated by the TOLL pathway whose action does not affect the invasion of the fly by the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus, but rather neutralizes the effects of two mycotoxins. This discovery reveals a new host defense mechanism targeting virulence factors produced by the infectious microorganism, rather than the microorganism itself.

Toll-regulated peptides
Toll signaling is thought to mediate fungal resistance by regulating the secretion of antimicrobial peptides. This study shows that Toll signaling is not needed to prevent Aspergillus fumigatus invasion but protects Drosophila against specific mycotoxins.
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