In many animals, the epidermis is in permanent contact with the environment and represents a first line of defense against pathogens and injury. Infection of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans by the natural fungal pathogen Drechmeria coniospora induces the expression in the epidermis of antimicrobial peptide (AMP) genes such as nlp-29. Here, we tested the hypothesis that injury might also alter AMP gene expression and sought to characterize the mechanisms that regulate the innate immune response.
Injury induces a wound-healing response in C. elegans that includes induction of nlp-29 in the epidermis. We find that a conserved p38-MAP kinase cascade is required in the epidermis for the response to both infection and wounding. Through a forward genetic screen, we isolated mutants that failed to induce nlp-29 expression after D. coniospora infection. We identify a kinase, NIPI-3, related to human Tribbles homolog 1, that is likely to act upstream of the MAP2K SEK-1. We find NIPI-3 is required only for nlp-29 induction following infection and not following wounding.
Our results show that the C. elegans epidermis actively responds to wounding and infection via distinct pathways that converge on a conserved signaling cassette that controls the expression of the AMP gene nlp-29. A comparison between these results and MAP kinase signaling in yeast gives insights into the possible origin and evolution of innate immunity.
The fungal pathogen Drechmeria coniospora infects C. elegans and elicits an innate immune response mediated, in part, by the induction of antimicrobial peptides in the epidermis. The signaling pathways controlling this phenomenon remain to be fully characterized. In this issue of Virulence, Couillault and colleagues use both proteomics and genetics to discover an unexpected role for the unfolded protein response (UPR) target chaperone BiP/GRP78/hsp-3 in the control of fungal infection-induced antimicrobial peptide expression in C. elegans. Although the expression of hsp-3 is regulated by the UPR, Couillault and colleagues describe a novel signaling role for this BiP/GRP78 homolog.
C. elegans; D. coniospora; ER stress; chaperone; proteomics
An important part of the innate immune response of the nematode C. elegans to fungal infection is the rapid induction of antimicrobial peptide gene expression. One of these genes, nlp-29, is expressed at a low level in adults under normal conditions. Its expression is upregulated in the epidermis by infection with Drechmeria coniospora, but also by physical injury and by osmotic stress. For infection and wounding, the induction is dependent on a p38 MAP kinase cascade, but for osmotic stress, this pathway is not required. To characterize further the pathways that control the expression of nlp-29, we carried out a genetic screen for negative regulatory genes. We isolated a number of Peni (peptide expression no infection) mutants and cloned one. It corresponds to fasn-1, the nematode ortholog of vertebrate fatty acid synthase. We show here that a pathway involving fatty acid synthesis and the evolutionary conserved wnk-1 and gck-3/Ste20/GCK-VI kinases modulates nlp-29 expression in the C. elegans epidermis, independently of p38 MAPK signaling. The control of the antimicrobial peptide gene nlp-29 thus links different physiological processes, including fatty acid metabolism, osmoregulation, maintenance of epidermal integrity and the innate immune response to infection.
innate immunity; homeostasis; signalling; model organism; genetics
Hosts have developed diverse mechanisms to counter the pathogens they face in their natural environment. Throughout the plant and animal kingdoms, the up-regulation of antimicrobial peptides is a common response to infection. In C. elegans, infection with the natural pathogen Drechmeria coniospora leads to rapid induction of antimicrobial peptide gene expression in the epidermis. Through a large genetic screen we have isolated many new mutants that are incapable of upregulating the antimicrobial peptide nlp-29 in response to infection (i.e. with a Nipi or ‘no induction of peptide after infection’ phenotype). More than half of the newly isolated Nipi mutants do not correspond to genes previously associated with the regulation of antimicrobial peptides. One of these, nipi-4, encodes a member of a nematode-specific kinase family. NIPI-4 is predicted to be catalytically inactive, thus to be a pseudokinase. It acts in the epidermis downstream of the PKC∂ TPA-1, as a positive regulator of nlp antimicrobial peptide gene expression after infection. It also controls the constitutive expression of antimicrobial peptide genes of the cnc family that are targets of TGFß regulation. Our results open the way for a more detailed understanding of how host defense pathways can be molded by environmental pathogens.
The evolution of genetic mechanisms used to combat bacterial infections is critical for the survival of animals and plants, yet how these genes evolved to produce a robust defense system is poorly understood. Studies of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans have uncovered a plethora of genetic regulators and effectors responsible for surviving pathogens. However, comparative studies utilizing other free-living nematodes and therefore providing an insight into the evolution of innate immunity have been lacking. Here, we take a systems biology approach and use whole genome microarrays to profile the transcriptional response of C. elegans and the necromenic nematode Pristionchus pacificus after exposure to the four different pathogens Serratia marcescens, Xenorhabdus nematophila, Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus thuringiensis DB27. C. elegans is susceptible to all four pathogens whilst P. pacificus is only susceptible to S. marcescens and X. nematophila. We show an unexpected level of specificity in host responses to distinct pathogens within and across species, revealing an enormous complexity of effectors of innate immunity. Functional domains enriched in the transcriptomes on different pathogens are similar within a nematode species but different across them, suggesting differences in pathogen sensing and response networks. We find translation inhibition to be a potentially conserved response to gram-negative pathogens in both the nematodes. Further computational analysis indicates that both nematodes when fed on pathogens up-regulate genes known to be involved in other stress responses like heat shock, oxidative and osmotic stress, and genes regulated by DAF-16/FOXO and TGF-beta pathways. This study presents a platform for comparative systems analysis of two nematode model species, and a catalog of genes involved in the evolution of nematode immunity and identifies both pathogen specific and pan-pathogen responses. We discuss the potential effects of ecology on evolution of downstream effectors and upstream regulators on evolution of nematode innate immunity.
The nematode C. elegans responds to infection by the fungus Drechmeria coniospora with a rapid increase in the expression of antimicrobial peptide genes. To investigate further the molecular basis of this innate immune response, we took a two-dimensional difference in-gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE) approach to characterize the changes in host protein that accompany infection. We identified a total of 68 proteins from differentially represented spots and their corresponding genes. Through class testing, we identified functional categories that were enriched in our proteomic data set. One of these was “protein processing in endoplasmic reticulum,” pointing to a potential link between innate immunity and endoplasmic reticulum function. This class included HSP-3, a chaperone of the BiP/GRP78 family known to act coordinately in the endoplasmic reticulum with its paralog HSP-4 to regulate the unfolded protein response (UPR). Other studies have shown that infection of C. elegans can provoke a UPR. We observed, however, that in adult C. elegans infection with D. coniospora did not induce a UPR, and conversely, triggering a UPR did not lead to an increase in expression of the well-characterized antimicrobial peptide gene nlp-29. On the other hand, we demonstrated a specific role for hsp-3 in the regulation of nlp-29 after infection that is not shared with hsp-4. Epistasis analysis allowed us to place hsp-3 genetically between the Tribbles-like kinase gene nipi-3 and the protein kinase C delta gene tpa-1. The precise function of hsp-3 has yet to be determined, but these results uncover a hitherto unsuspected link between a BiP/GRP78 family protein and innate immune signaling.
Drechmeria coniospora; MAPK; gene regulation; proteomics; signal transduction
The Caenorhabditis elegans DAF-16 transcription factor is critical for diverse biological processes, particularly longevity and stress resistance. Disruption of the DAF-2 signaling cascade promotes DAF-16 activation, and confers resistance to killing by pathogenic bacteria, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Enterococcus faecalis. However, daf-16 mutants exhibit similar sensitivity to these bacteria as wild-type animals, suggesting that DAF-16 is not normally activated by these bacterial pathogens. In this report, we demonstrate that DAF-16 can be directly activated by fungal infection and wounding in wild-type animals, which is independent of the DAF-2 pathway. Fungal infection and wounding initiate the Gαq signaling cascade, leading to Ca2+ release. Ca2+ mediates the activation of BLI-3, a dual-oxidase, resulting in the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS then activate DAF-16 through a Ste20-like kinase-1/CST-1. Our results indicate that DAF-16 in the epidermis is required for survival after fungal infection and wounding. Thus, the EGL-30-Ca2+-BLI-3-CST-1-DAF-16 signaling represents a previously unknown pathway to regulate epidermal damage response.
In the natural environment, animals encounter different pathogens. Thus, different tissues within an organism must develop specific immune systems for survival. The epidermis acts as a physical barrier and represents a first line of defense against infection and physical injury in a variety of animals. Natural nematophagous fungi, such as Drechmeria coniospora and Clonostachys rosea, infect the epidermis of the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans by producing conidia. Here we demonstrated that the DAF-16/FOXO transcription factor in the epidermis has a direct role in C. elegans defense against fungal infection and physical injury. We found that the EGL-30/EGL-8/IP3/ITR-1 signaling pathway triggers epidermal Ca2+ release through IP3 and its receptor ITR-1 after fungal infection. Ca2+ release induces the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by activating a dual-oxidase BLI-3. ROS in turn mediate DAF-16 activation in a Ste20-like kinase-1/CST-1-dependent manner. Thus, DAF-16 could act in a cell-autonomous way in the epidermis as an active regulator of immune responses to fungal infection and physical injury.
The soil-dwelling nematode C. elegans is a powerful system for comparative molecular analyses of environmental stress response mechanisms. Infection of worms with bacterial and fungal pathogens causes the activation of well-characterized innate immune transcriptional programs in pathogen-exposed hypodermal and intestinal tissues. However, the pathophysiological events that drive such transcriptional responses are not understood. Here, we show that infection-activated transcriptional responses are, in large part, recapitulated by either physiological or genetic activation of the osmotic stress response. Microarray profiling of wild type worms exposed to non-lethal hypertonicity identified a suite of genes that were also regulated by infection. Expression profiles of five different osmotic stress resistant (osr) mutants under isotonic conditions reiterated the wild type transcriptional response to osmotic stress and also showed substantial similarity to infection-induced gene expression under isotonic conditions. Computational, transgenic, and functional approaches revealed that two GATA transcription factors previously implicated in infection-induced transcriptional responses, elt-2 and elt-3, are also essential for coordinated tissue-specific activation of osmosensitive gene expression and promote survival under osmotically stressful conditions. Together, our data suggest infection and osmotic adaptation share previously unappreciated transcriptional similarities which might be controlled via regulation of tissue-specific GATA transcription factors.
It is now well established that natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster harbor substantial genetic variation associated with physiological measures of immune function. In no case, however, have intermediate measures of immune function, such as transcriptional activity of immune-related genes, been tested as mediators of phenotypic variation in immunity. In this study, we measured bacterial load sustained after infection of D. melanogaster with Serratia marcescens, Providencia rettgeri, Enterococcus faecalis, and Lactococcus lactis in a panel of 94 third-chromosome substitution lines. We also measured transcriptional levels of 329 immune-related genes eight hours after infection with E. faecalis and S. marcescens in lines from the phenotypic tails of the test panel. We genotyped the substitution lines at 137 polymorphic markers distributed across 25 genes in order to test for statistical associations among genotype, bacterial load, and transcriptional dynamics. We find that genetic polymorphisms in the pathogen recognition genes (and particularly in PGRP-LC, GNBP1, and GNBP2) are most significantly associated with variation in bacterial load. We also find that overall transcriptional induction of effector proteins is a significant predictor of bacterial load after infection with E. faecalis, and that a marker upstream of the recognition gene PGRP-SD is statistically associated with variation in both bacterial load and transcriptional induction of effector proteins. These results show that polymorphism in genes near the top of the immune system signaling cascade can have a disproportionate effect on organismal phenotype due to the amplification of minor effects through the cascade.
Genetic variation for resistance to infection is widespread among insects and other organisms. However, the extent to which this variation in resistance is mediated by changes in infection-induced gene expression is not known. In this study, we assayed expression of immune system genes and bacterial load after infection in a genotyped panel of lines of the model insect Drosophila melanogaster. We find that statistical associations between genetic variants and bacterial load tend to cluster in genes encoding proteins involved in microbial recognition. Variation in suppression of bacterial growth is also determined in part by genetic variation in the expression of downstream components of the immune system that function to directly kill bacteria, despite finding no genetic variation in any single of these effector gene significantly associated with phenotype. Instead, it appears that activity differences in upstream components of the pathway have a cascading effect that results in larger variation in the expression of coordinately regulated downstream effector genes. These results imply that the interactions among genes need to be taken into account when assessing the phenotypic consequences of genetic variation, as signaling cascades such as those in the immune response have the potential to amplify the phenotypic effects of minor genetic variation in individual genes.
WormBase (http://www.wormbase.org/) is a web-accessible central data repository for information about Caenorhabditis elegans and related nematodes. The past two years have seen a significant expansion in the biological scope of WormBase, including the integration of large-scale, genome-wide data sets, the inclusion of genome sequence and gene predictions from related species and active literature curation. This expansion of data has also driven the development and refinement of user interfaces and operability, including a new Genome Browser, new searches and facilities for data access and the inclusion of extensive documentation. These advances have expanded WormBase beyond the obvious target audience of C. elegans researchers, to include researchers wishing to explore problems in functional and comparative genomics within the context of a powerful genetic system.
Microarray analysis of the transcriptional response of C. elegans to four bacterial pathogens revealed that different infections trigger responses, some of which are common to all four pathogens, such as necrotic cell death, which has been associated with infection in humans.
There are striking similarities between the innate immune systems of invertebrates and vertebrates. Caenorhabditis elegans is increasingly used as a model for the study of innate immunity. Evidence is accumulating that C. elegans mounts distinct responses to different pathogens, but the true extent of this specificity is unclear. Here, we employ direct comparative genomic analyses to explore the nature of the host immune response.
Using whole-genome microarrays representing 20,334 genes, we analyzed the transcriptional response of C. elegans to four bacterial pathogens. Different bacteria provoke pathogen-specific signatures within the host, involving differential regulation of 3.5-5% of all genes. These include genes that encode potential pathogen-recognition and antimicrobial proteins. Additionally, variance analysis revealed a robust signature shared by the pathogens, involving 22 genes associated with proteolysis, cell death and stress responses. The expression of these genes, including those that mediate necrosis, is similarly altered following infection with three bacterial pathogens. We show that necrosis aggravates pathogenesis and accelerates the death of the host.
Our results suggest that in C. elegans, different infections trigger both specific responses and responses shared by several pathogens, involving immune defense genes. The response shared by pathogens involves necrotic cell death, which has been associated with infection in humans. Our results are the first indication that necrosis is important for disease susceptibility in C. elegans. This opens the way for detailed study of the means by which certain bacteria exploit conserved elements of host cell-death machinery to increase their effective virulence.
While the C. elegans genome is extensively annotated, relatively little information is available for other Caenorhabditis species. The nematode genome annotation assessment project (nGASP) was launched to objectively assess the accuracy of protein-coding gene prediction software in C. elegans, and to apply this knowledge to the annotation of the genomes of four additional Caenorhabditis species and other nematodes. Seventeen groups worldwide participated in nGASP, and submitted 47 prediction sets across 10 Mb of the C. elegans genome. Predictions were compared to reference gene sets consisting of confirmed or manually curated gene models from WormBase.
The most accurate gene-finders were 'combiner' algorithms, which made use of transcript- and protein-alignments and multi-genome alignments, as well as gene predictions from other gene-finders. Gene-finders that used alignments of ESTs, mRNAs and proteins came in second. There was a tie for third place between gene-finders that used multi-genome alignments and ab initio gene-finders. The median gene level sensitivity of combiners was 78% and their specificity was 42%, which is nearly the same accuracy reported for combiners in the human genome. C. elegans genes with exons of unusual hexamer content, as well as those with unusually many exons, short exons, long introns, a weak translation start signal, weak splice sites, or poorly conserved orthologs posed the greatest difficulty for gene-finders.
This experiment establishes a baseline of gene prediction accuracy in Caenorhabditis genomes, and has guided the choice of gene-finders for the annotation of newly sequenced genomes of Caenorhabditis and other nematode species. We have created new gene sets for C. briggsae, C. remanei, C. brenneri, C. japonica, and Brugia malayi using some of the best-performing gene-finders.
Candida albicans is an opportunistic human fungal pathogen that normally resides in the gastrointestinal tract and on the skin as a commensal but can cause life-threatening invasive disease. Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium is a gram-negative bacterial pathogen that causes a significant amount of gastrointestinal infection in humans. Both of these organisms are also pathogenic to the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, causing a persistent gut infection leading to worm death. In the present study, we used a previously developed C. elegans polymicrobial infection model to assess the interactions between S. Typhimurium and C. albicans. We observed that when C. elegans is infected with C. albicans and serovar Typhimurium, C. albicans filamentation is inhibited. The inhibition of C. albicans filamentation by S. Typhimurium in C. elegans appeared to be mediated by a secretary molecule, since filter-sterilized bacterial supernatant was able to inhibit C. albicans filamentation. In vitro coculture assays under planktonic conditions showed that S. Typhimurium reduces the viability of C. albicans, with greater effects seen at 37°C than at 30°C. Interestingly, S. Typhimurium reduces the viability of both yeast and filamentous forms of C. albicans, but the killing appeared more rapid for the filamentous cells. The antagonistic interaction was also observed in a C. albicans biofilm environment. This study describes the interaction between two diverse human pathogens that reside within the gastrointestinal tract and shows that the prokaryote, S. Typhimurium, reduces the viability of the eukaryote, C. albicans. Identifying the molecular mechanisms of this interaction may provide important insights into microbial pathogenesis.
WormBase (http://www.wormbase.org) is a central data repository for nematode biology. Initially created as a service to the Caenorhabditis elegans research field, WormBase has evolved into a powerful research tool in its own right. In the past 2 years, we expanded WormBase to include the complete genomic sequence, gene predictions and orthology assignments from a range of related nematodes. This comparative data enrich the C. elegans data with improved gene predictions and a better understanding of gene function. In turn, they bring the wealth of experimental knowledge of C. elegans to other systems of medical and agricultural importance. Here, we describe new species and data types now available at WormBase. In addition, we detail enhancements to our curatorial pipeline and website infrastructure to accommodate new genomes and an extensive user base.
WormBase (http://www.wormbase.org/) is the central data repository for information about Caenorhabditis elegans and related nematodes. As a model organism database, WormBase extends beyond the genomic sequence, integrating experimental results with extensively annotated views of the genome. The WormBase Consortium continues to expand the biological scope and utility of WormBase with the inclusion of large-scale genomic analyses, through active data and literature curation, through new analysis and visualization tools, and through refinement of the user interface. Over the past year, the nearly complete genomic sequence and comparative analyses of the closely related species Caenorhabditis briggsae have been integrated into WormBase, including gene predictions, ortholog assignments and a new synteny viewer to display the relationships between the two species. Extensive site-wide refinement of the user interface now provides quick access to the most frequently accessed resources and a consistent browsing experience across the site. Unified single-page views now provide complete summaries of commonly accessed entries like genes. These advances continue to increase the utility of WormBase for C.elegans researchers, as well as for those researchers exploring problems in functional and comparative genomics in the context of a powerful genetic system.
Although the opportunistic bacterial pathogen Enterococcus faecium is a leading source of nosocomial infections, it appears to lack many of the overt virulence factors produced by other bacterial pathogens, and the underlying mechanism of pathogenesis is not clear. Using E. faecium-mediated killing of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans as an indicator of toxicity, we determined that E. faecium produces hydrogen peroxide at levels that cause cellular damage. We identified E. faecium transposon insertion mutants with altered C. elegans killing activity, and these mutants were altered in hydrogen peroxide production. Mutation of an NADH oxidase-encoding gene eliminated nearly all NADH oxidase activity and reduced hydrogen peroxide production. Mutation of an NADH peroxidase-encoding gene resulted in the enhanced accumulation of hydrogen peroxide. E. faecium is able to produce hydrogen peroxide by using glycerol-3-phosphate oxidase, and addition of glycerol to the culture medium enhanced the killing of C. elegans. Conversely, addition of glucose, which leads to the down-regulation of glycerol metabolism, prevented both C. elegans killing and hydrogen peroxide production. Lastly, detoxification of hydrogen peroxide either by exogenously added catalase or by a C. elegans transgenic strain overproducing catalase prevented E. faecium-mediated killing. These results suggest that hydrogen peroxide produced by E. faecium has cytotoxic effects and highlight the utility of C. elegans pathogenicity models for identifying bacterial virulence factors.
Removal of the reproductive system of many animals including fish, flies, nematodes, mice and humans can increase lifespan through mechanisms largely unknown. The abrogation of the germline in Caenorhabditis elegans increases longevity by 60% due to a signal emitted from the somatic gonad. Apart from increased longevity, germline-less C. elegans is also resistant to other environmental stressors such as feeding on bacterial pathogens. However, the evolutionary conservation of this pathogen resistance, its genetic basis and an understanding of genes involved in producing this extraordinary survival phenotype are currently unknown. To study these evolutionary aspects we used the necromenic nematode Pristionchus pacificus, which is a genetic model system used in comparison to C. elegans. By ablation of germline precursor cells and subsequent feeding on the pathogen Serratia marcescens we discovered that P. pacificus shows remarkable resistance to bacterial pathogens and that this response is evolutionarily conserved across the Genus Pristionchus. To gain a mechanistic understanding of the increased resistance to bacterial pathogens and longevity in germline-ablated P. pacificus we used whole genome microarrays to profile the transcriptional response comparing germline ablated versus un-ablated animals when fed S. marcescens. We show that lipid metabolism, maintenance of the proteasome, insulin signaling and nuclear pore complexes are essential for germline deficient phenotypes with more than 3,300 genes being differentially expressed. In contrast, gene expression of germline-less P. pacificus on E. coli (longevity) and S. marcescens (immunity) is very similar with only 244 genes differentially expressed indicating that longevity is due to abundant gene expression also involved in immunity. By testing existing mutants of Ppa-DAF-16/FOXO and the nuclear hormone receptor Ppa-DAF-12 we show a conserved function of both genes in resistance to bacterial pathogens and longevity. This is the first study to show that the influence of the reproductive system on extending lifespan and innate immunity is conserved in evolution.
Removal of the germline in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans can increase lifespan and resistance to bacterial pathogens. Currently there is no information on what genes are regulated to produce this resistance phenotype in other nematodes and whether they are the same as genes involved in lifespan regulation. We used the necromenic nematode, Pristionchus pacificus, a species that diverged from C. elegans 250–400 MYA, ablated its germline and found increased resistance to the pathogens Serratia marcescens and Xenorhabdus nematophila. In a novel manner we performed cell ablation of the germline, exposure to bacterial pathogens and used whole genome microarrays of the same animals to find that this resistance is due to expression of genes involved in insulin signaling, nuclear pore complexes, ribosomal translation and lipid production. Furthermore, we see little difference between germline ablated lifespan and immunity leading us to believe that living longer is due to an abundance of genes also being involved with immunity. We could also show that, similar to C. elegans, the transcription factor DAF-16/FOXO and nuclear hormone receptor DAF-12, are integral for this response. Our study is the first to understand how the reproductive system regulates both lifespan and innate immunity transcriptionally and offers insights into the signaling cascades involved with resisting pathogen attack.
Encounters with pathogens provoke changes in gene transcription that are an integral part of host innate immune responses. In recent years, studies with invertebrate model organisms have given insights into the origin, function, and evolution of innate immunity. Here, we use genome-wide transcriptome analysis to characterize the consequence of natural fungal infection in Caenorhabditis elegans. We identify several families of genes encoding putative antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and proteins that are transcriptionally up-regulated upon infection. Many are located in small genomic clusters. We focus on the nlp-29 cluster of six AMP genes and show that it enhances pathogen resistance in vivo. The same cluster has a different structure in two other Caenorhabditis species. A phylogenetic analysis indicates that the evolutionary diversification of this cluster, especially in cases of intra-genomic gene duplications, is driven by natural selection. We further show that upon osmotic stress, two genes of the nlp-29 cluster are strongly induced. In contrast to fungus-induced nlp expression, this response is independent of the p38 MAP kinase cascade. At the same time, both involve the epidermal GATA factor ELT-3. Our results suggest that selective pressure from pathogens influences intra-genomic diversification of AMPs and reveal an unexpected complexity in AMP regulation as part of the invertebrate innate immune response.
We are interested in how exactly the nematode Caenorhabditi elegans, widely used in biological research, defends itself against fungal infection. Like most animals, this worm responds to infection by switching on defense genes. We used DNA chips to measure the levels of all the worm's 20,000 genes and discovered new inducible defense genes. Many of them encode small proteins or peptides that can probably kill microbes. By looking in other nematode species, we saw that these antimicrobial peptide genes are evolving rapidly. This means that they could be important for the worms' survival in their natural environment. We also looked at how some of these genes are regulated and uncovered a sophisticated control mechanism involving a series of proteins called kinases that relay signals within cells. The genes we looked at are active in the worm's skin. Some of the antimicrobial peptide genes that we looked at are also switched on in the skin by high salt, but in this case, the regulation doesn't involve the same cascade of kinases. The responses to both infection and high salt do, however, require the same transcription factor (the protein that actually switches genes on), in this case called a GATA factor.
The Caenorhabditis elegans genome sequence was published over a decade ago; this was the first published genome of a multi-cellular organism and now the WormBase project has had a decade of experience in curating this genome's sequence and gene structures. In one of its roles as a central repository for nematode biology, WormBase continues to refine the gene structure annotations using sequence similarity and other computational methods, as well as information from the literature- and community-submitted annotations. We describe the various methods of gene structure curation that have been tried by WormBase and the problems associated with each of them. We also describe the current strategy for gene structure curation, and introduce the WormBase ‘curation tool’, which integrates different data sources in order to identify new and correct gene structures.
Database URL: http://www.wormbase.org/
For more than ten years the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has proven to be a valuable model for studies of the host response to various bacterial and fungal pathogens. When exposed to a pathogenic organism, a clear response is elicited in the nematode, which is characterized by specific alterations on the transcriptional and translational levels. Early on, researchers took advantage of the possibility to conduct large-scale investigations of the C. elegans immune response. Multiple studies demonstrated that C. elegans does indeed mount a protective response against invading pathogens, thus rendering this small nematode a very useful and simple host model for the study of innate immunity and host-pathogen interactions. Here, we provide an overview of key aspects of innate immunity in C. elegans revealed by recent whole-genome transcriptomics and proteomics studies of the global response of C. elegans to various bacterial and fungal pathogens.
innate immunity; C. elegans; transcriptomics; proteomics; model host
In the past decade, Caenorhabditis elegans has been used to dissect several genetic pathways involved in immunity; however, little is known about transcription factors that regulate the expression of immune effectors. C. elegans does not appear to have a functional homolog of the key immune transcription factor NF-κB. Here we show that that the intestinal GATA transcription factor ELT-2 is required for both immunity to Salmonella enterica and expression of a C-type lectin gene, clec-67, which is expressed in the intestinal cells and is a good marker of S. enterica infection. We also found that ELT-2 is required for immunity to Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterococcus faecalis, and Cryptococcus neoformans. Lack of immune inhibition by DAF-2, which negatively regulates the FOXO transcription factor DAF-16, rescues the hypersusceptibility to pathogens phenotype of elt-2(RNAi) animals. Our results indicate that ELT-2 is part of a multi-pathogen defense pathway that regulates innate immunity independently of the DAF-2/DAF-16 signaling pathway.
WormBook () is an open-access, online collection of original, peer-reviewed chapters on the biology of Caenorhabditis elegans and related nematodes. Since WormBook was launched in June 2005 with 12 chapters, it has grown to over 100 chapters, covering nearly every aspect of C.elegans research, from Cell Biology and Neurobiology to Evolution and Ecology. WormBook also serves as the text companion to WormBase, the C.elegans model organism database. Objects such as genes, proteins and cells are linked to the relevant pages in WormBase, providing easily accessible background information. Additionally, WormBook chapters contain links to other relevant topics in WormBook, and the in-text citations are linked to their abstracts in PubMed and full-text references, if available. Since WormBook is online, its chapters are able to contain movies and complex images that would not be possible in a print version. WormBook is designed to keep up with the rapid pace of discovery in the field of C.elegans research and continues to grow. WormBook represents a generic publishing infrastructure that is easily adaptable to other research communities to facilitate the dissemination of knowledge in the field.
Adhesion of conidia of the endoparasitic fungus Drechmeria coniospora to the cuticles of the wild type and four different head defective mutants of Caenorhabditis elegans, and subsequent infection, was studied. The conidia adhered around the sensory structures in the head region, vulva, and occasionally to other parts of the cuticle in both mutant and wild type hosts. Infection took place after adhesion to the head region by penetration through the cuticle, and, following adhesion around the vulva, through the natural orifice. Infection was not observed after adhesion to other parts of the cuticle. Adhesion was reduced after treatment of the nematodes with Pronase E. Adhesion returned towards normal again within 2 hours, indicating that the proteinaceous material emanating from the sensory structures was rapidly replaced.
adhesion of conida; biological control; Caenorhabditis elegans; cuticle; Drechmeria coniospora; endoparasite; infection; mutant; nematode; nematophagous fungus; penetration; Pronase E; proteolytic enzyme; sensory structure
Drosophila has been established as an excellent genetic and genomic model to investigate host-pathogen interactions and innate immune defense mechanisms. To date, most information on the Drosophila immune response derives from studies that involve bacterial, fungal or viral pathogens. However, immune reactions to insect parasitic nematodes are still not well characterized. The nematodes Heterorhabditis bacteriophora live in symbiosis with the entomopathogenic bacteria Photorhabdus luminescens, and they are able to invade and kill insects. Interestingly, Heterorhabditis nematodes are viable in the absence of Photorhabdus. Techniques for infecting Drosophila larvae with these nematodes have been previously reported. Here, we have developed a method for infecting Drosophila adult flies with Heterorhabditis nematodes carrying (symbiotic worms) or lacking (axenic worms) their associated bacteria. The protocol we present can be readily adapted for studying parasitic strategies of other insect nematodes using Drosophila as the host infection model.
Drosophila; Heterorhabditis; Photorhabdus; infection model; model host; nematode parasitism
Eleven fungal isolates were tested in agar dishes for pathogenicity to Pratylenchus penetrans. Of the fungi that produce adhesive conidia, Hirsutella rhossiliensis was a virulent pathogen; Verticillium balanoides, Drechmeria coniospora, and Nematoctonus sp. were weak or nonpathogens. The trapping fungi, Arthrobotrys dactyloides, A. oligospora, Monacrosporium dlipsosporum, and M. cionopagum, killed most of the P. penetrans adults and juveniles added to the fungus cultures. An isolate of Nematoctonus that forms adhesive knobs trapped only a small proportion of the nematodes. In 17-cm³ vials, soil moisture influenced survival of P. penetrans in the presence of H. rhossiliensis; nematode survival decreased with diminishing soil moisture. Hirsutella rhossiliensis and M. ellipsosporum were equally effective in reducing numbers of P. penetrans by 24-25% after 4 days in sand. After 25 days in soil artificially infested with H. rhossiliensis, numbers of P. penetrans were reduced by 28-53%.
biological control; Hirsutella rhossiliensis; migratory endoparasite; Monacrosporium ellipsosporum; nematode; nematophagous fungi; Pratylenchus penetrans; root lesion nematode