The Drosophila NF-κB protein Dorsal is expressed at the larval neuromuscular junction, where its expression appears unrelated to known Dorsal functions in embryonic patterning and innate immunity. Using confocal microscopy with domain-specific antisera, we demonstrate that larval muscle expresses only the B isoform of Dorsal, which arises by intron retention. We find that Dorsal B interacts with and stabilizes Cactus at the neuromuscular junction, but exhibits Cactus independent localization and an absence of detectable nuclear translocation. We further find that the Dorsal-related immune factor Dif encodes a B isoform, reflecting a conservation of B domains across a range of insect NF-κB proteins. Carrying out mutagenesis of the Dif locus via a site-specific recombineering approach, we demonstrate that Dif B is the major, if not sole, Dif isoform in the mushroom bodies of the larval brain. The Dorsal and Dif B isoforms thus share a specific association with nervous system tissues as well as an alternative protein structure.
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