The Malpighian tubule: Rapid insights from post-genomic biology

Dow, J. A.T. and Davies, S. A. (2006) The Malpighian tubule: Rapid insights from post-genomic biology. Journal of Insect Physiology, 52(4), pp. 365-378. (doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2005.10.007) (PMID:16310213)

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Good osmoregulation is critical to the success of insects, and the Malpighian tubules play a key role in osmoregulation. Recently, the application of genetics and genomics to the Drosophila tubule has revealed far more extensive roles than ion and water transport. Microarray analysis shows that organic solute transporters dominate the tubule transcriptome. The tubule thus has the capability to excrete actively the broadest range of organic solutes and xenobiotics. Such transporters can produce unexpected, emergent roles for the whole tissue; e.g. the tubule is highly resistant to ouabain not because the Na+, K+ ATPase is unimportant, but because it co-localises with a potent alkaloid excretory mechanism. Reinforcing this role in excretion, the tubule expresses very high levels of a particular cytochrome P450 s, glutathione-S-transferases and alchohol dehydrogenases which suggest that the tubule plays a major role in metabolism and detoxification of both endogenous solutes and xenobiotics, such as insecticides. Additionally, the tubule plays a significant role in immunity; tubules are capable of sensing bacterial challenge, and mounting an effective killing response by secretion of antimicrobial peptides, entirely independent of the fat body, the canonical immune tissue. The tubule has also proved to be a good model for some human renal disease, and to act as an organotypic ‘testbed’ for mammalian genes. The tubule can thus bask in a greatly enhanced reputation as a key tissue for an unexpectedly wide range of functions in the insect.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Dow, Professor Julian and Davies, Professor Shireen
Authors: Dow, J. A.T., and Davies, S. A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Molecular Biosciences
Journal Name:Journal of Insect Physiology
ISSN (Online):1879-1611
Published Online:28 November 2005

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
337031Function of intracellular calcium pools in renal transport - unravelling complexities using targeted calcium reportersShireen DaviesBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)S18917Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology
325421Affymetrix array service for the UK Drosophila CommunityJulian DowBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)G17767Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology