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In JoVE (1)
Other Publications (38)
- Microbes and Infection / Institut Pasteur
- Infection and Immunity
- Current Biology : CB
- The EMBO Journal
- Nature Reviews. Genetics
- Current Biology : CB
- Médecine Sciences : M/S
- Journal De La Société De Biologie
- Nature Immunology
- Immunological Reviews
- BMC Evolutionary Biology
- Annual Review of Genetics
- Current Opinion in Immunology
- Developmental Biology
- Nature Immunology
- Microbiology (Reading, England)
- WormBook : the Online Review of C. Elegans Biology
- Nucleic Acids Research
- Current Opinion in Microbiology
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Genome Biology
- Molecular Microbiology
- PLoS Pathogens
- Infection, Genetics and Evolution : Journal of Molecular Epidemiology and Evolutionary Genetics in Infectious Diseases
- Current Biology : CB
- PLoS Pathogens
- Nature Biotechnology
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Nature Immunology
- Cell Host & Microbe
- PLoS Pathogens
- PloS One
- Current Biology : CB
- Disease Models & Mechanisms
- Cell Host & Microbe
- PloS One
- PloS One
Articles by Jonathan Ewbank in JoVE
Quantitative and Automated High-throughput Genome-wide RNAi Screens in C. elegans
Barbara Squiban, Jérôme Belougne, Jonathan Ewbank, Olivier Zugasti
Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy, Université de la Méditerranée
We describe a protocol using C. elegans and RNAi feeding libraries that allows automated measurement of multiple parameters such as fluorescence, size and opacity of individual worms in a population. We give one example of a screen to identify genes involved in anti-fungal innate immunity in C. elegans.
Other articles by Jonathan Ewbank on PubMed
Microbes and Infection / Institut Pasteur. Feb, 2002 | Pubmed ID: 11880058
If one is interested in dissecting the complex interactions that exist between host and pathogen, the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans is perhaps not the first model host that comes to mind. In this review I will introduce 'the worm' and try to show how it is, in fact, well suited to the identification of universal virulence factors and holds great promise for the study of conserved mechanisms of innate immunity.
Infection and Immunity. Aug, 2002 | Pubmed ID: 12117988
Practically and ethically attractive as model systems, invertebrate organisms are increasingly recognized as relevant for the study of bacterial pathogenesis. We show here that the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is susceptible to a surprisingly broad range of bacteria and may constitute a useful model for the study of both pathogens and symbionts.
Current Biology : CB. Jul, 2002 | Pubmed ID: 12176330
The term innate immunity refers to a number of evolutionary ancient mechanisms that serve to defend animals and plants against infection. Genetically tractable model organisms, especially Drosophila, have contributed greatly to advances in our understanding of mammalian innate immunity. Essentially, nothing is known about immune responses in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Using high-density cDNA microarrays, we show here that infection of C. elegans by the Gram-negative bacterium Serratia marcescens provokes a marked upregulation of the expression of many genes. Among the most robustly induced are genes encoding lectins and lysozymes, known to be involved in immune responses in other organisms. Certain infection-inducible genes are under the control of the DBL-1/TGFbeta pathway. We found that dbl-1 mutants exhibit increased susceptibility to infection. Conversely, overexpression of the lysozyme gene lys-1 augments the resistance of C. elegans to S. marcescens. These results constitute the first demonstration of inducible antibacterial defenses in C. elegans and open new avenues for the investigation of evolutionary conserved mechanisms of innate immunity.
Virulence Factors of the Human Opportunistic Pathogen Serratia Marcescens Identified by in Vivo Screening
The EMBO Journal. Apr, 2003 | Pubmed ID: 12660152
The human opportunistic pathogen Serratia marcescens is a bacterium with a broad host range, and represents a growing problem for public health. Serratia marcescens kills Caenorhabditis elegans after colonizing the nematode's intestine. We used C.elegans to screen a bank of transposon-induced S.marcescens mutants and isolated 23 clones with an attenuated virulence. Nine of the selected bacterial clones also showed a reduced virulence in an insect model of infection. Of these, three exhibited a reduced cytotoxicity in vitro, and among them one was also markedly attenuated in its virulence in a murine lung infection model. For 21 of the 23 mutants, the transposon insertion site was identified. This revealed that among the genes necessary for full in vivo virulence are those that function in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) biosynthesis, iron uptake and hemolysin production. Using this system we also identified novel conserved virulence factors required for Pseudomonas aeruginosa pathogenicity. This study extends the utility of C.elegans as an in vivo model for the study of bacterial virulence and advances the molecular understanding of S.marcescens pathogenicity.
Nature Reviews. Genetics. May, 2003 | Pubmed ID: 12728280
Invaluable insights into how animals, humans included, defend themselves against infection have been provided by more than a decade of genetic studies that have used fruitflies. In the past few years, attention has also turned to another simple animal model, the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. What exactly have we learned from the work in Drosophila? And will research with C. elegans teach us anything new about our response to pathogen attack?
Médecine Sciences : M/S. Dec, 2003 | Pubmed ID: 14691745
Despite its relative anatomic simplicity, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) is a complex multicellular organism. In this review, we describe studies that have contributed to a better understanding of certain aspects of the worm's physiology. We focus on the cellular and molecular basis of the interaction between C. elegans and its environment, including its sensory capacities, the intrinsic biological clock that governs the speed of its life, and on some of the factors that control its life span. We also outline very recent findings that have demonstrated the existence of an innate immune system in C. elegans. Finally, we highlight a number of novel techniques that are transforming the worm from a largely genetic model system into an attractive organism for functional genomic studies.
Journal De La Société De Biologie. 2003 | Pubmed ID: 15005519
For certain pathogens capable of infecting a broad range of organisms, there exist universal virulence factors, necessary for full pathogenicity regardless of the host. This has been most clearly demonstrated by Ausubel and colleagues for the human opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. As a consequence, one can use non-mammalian model systems, including the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, to assay for such virulence factors. A significant number of pathogens of C. elegans, that provoke a range of diseases, are now known, including the opportunistic human pathogen Serratia marcescens. After explaining the practical advantages associated with the use of C. elegans, and briefly reviewing previous studies, the results of a screen for S. marcescens virulence factors will be presented.
TLR-independent Control of Innate Immunity in Caenorhabditis Elegans by the TIR Domain Adaptor Protein TIR-1, an Ortholog of Human SARM
Nature Immunology. May, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15048112
Both plants and animals respond to infection by synthesizing compounds that directly inhibit or kill invading pathogens. We report here the identification of infection-inducible antimicrobial peptides in Caenorhabditis elegans. Expression of two of these peptides, NLP-29 and NLP-31, was differentially regulated by fungal and bacterial infection and was controlled in part by tir-1, which encodes an ortholog of SARM, a Toll-interleukin 1 receptor (TIR) domain protein. Inactivation of tir-1 by RNA interference caused increased susceptibility to infection. We identify protein partners for TIR-1 and show that the small GTPase Rab1 and the f subunit of ATP synthase participate specifically in the control of antimicrobial peptide gene expression. As the activity of tir-1 was independent of the single nematode Toll-like receptor, TIR-1 may represent a component of a previously uncharacterized, but conserved, innate immune signaling pathway.
Immunological Reviews. Apr, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15199953
Simple model organisms that are amenable to comprehensive experimental analysis can be used to elucidate the molecular genetic architecture of complex traits. They can thereby enhance our understanding of these traits in other organisms, including humans. Here, we describe the use of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a tractable model system to study innate immunity. We detail our current understanding of the worm's immune system, which seems to be characterized by four main signaling cascades: a p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, a transforming growth factor-beta-like, a programed cell death, and an insulin-like receptor pathway. Many details, especially regarding pathogen recognition and immune effectors, are only poorly characterized and clearly warrant further investigation. We additionally speculate on the evolution of the C. elegans immune system, taking into special consideration the relationship between immunity, stress responses and digestion, the diversification of the different parts of the immune system in response to multiple and/or coevolving pathogens, and the trade-off between immunity and host life history traits. Using C. elegans to address these different facets of host-pathogen interactions provides a fresh perspective on our understanding of the structure and complexity of innate immune systems in animals and plants.
Diversity and Specificity in the Interaction Between Caenorhabditis Elegans and the Pathogen Serratia Marcescens
BMC Evolutionary Biology. Nov, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15555070
Co-evolutionary arms races between parasites and hosts are considered to be of immense importance in the evolution of living organisms, potentially leading to highly dynamic life-history changes. The outcome of such arms races is in many cases thought to be determined by frequency dependent selection, which relies on genetic variation in host susceptibility and parasite virulence, and also genotype-specific interactions between host and parasite. Empirical evidence for these two prerequisites is scarce, however, especially for invertebrate hosts. We addressed this topic by analysing the interaction between natural isolates of the soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the pathogenic soil bacterium Serratia marcescens.
Annual Review of Genetics. 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15568980
To decipher the complexity of host-pathogen interactions the widest possible range of model hosts and of analytical methods is required. As some virulence mechanisms and certain host responses have been conserved throughout evolution, even simple organisms can be used as model hosts to help our understanding of infectious diseases. The availability of molecular genetic tools and a cooperative community of researchers are pivotal to the emergence of model systems. In this review, we first summarize the genetic screens that can be used to identify pathogen virulence factors, then we present a comparative overview of existing or emerging genetically tractable host models.
Current Opinion in Immunology. Feb, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 14734103
Until very recently it was not known whether the invertebrate Caenorhabditis elegans was capable of mounting a specific immune response to protect itself from pathogens. It has only just become clear that this simple nematode in fact possesses a complex innate immune system, involving multiple signalling pathways and an armoury of antimicrobial proteins and peptides. Genetic and microarray approaches are now revealing the molecular cross-talk that exists between the different signalling cascades.
Developmental Biology. Feb, 2005 | Pubmed ID: 15649460
Mutations in the XNP/ATR-X gene cause several X-linked mental retardation syndromes in humans. The XNP/ATR-X gene encodes a DNA-helicase belonging to the SNF2 family. It has been proposed that XNP/ATR-X might be involved in chromatin remodelling. The lack of a mouse model for the ATR-X syndrome has, however, hampered functional studies of XNP/ATR-X. C. elegans possesses one homolog of the XNP/ATR-X gene, named xnp-1. By analysing a deletion mutant, we show that xnp-1 is required for the development of the embryo and the somatic gonad. Moreover, we show that abrogation of xnp-1 function in combination with inactivation of genes of the NuRD complex, as well as lin-35/Rb and hpl-2/HP1 leads to a stereotyped block of larval development with a cessation of growth but not of cell division. We also demonstrate a specific function for xnp-1 together with lin-35 or hpl-2 in the control of transgene expression, a process known to be dependent on chromatin remodelling. This study thus demonstrates that in vivo XNP-1 acts in association with RB, HP1 and the NuRD complex during development.
Nature Immunology. Aug, 2005 | Pubmed ID: 16034427
A Generalized Transducing Phage (phiIF3) for the Genomically Sequenced Serratia Marcescens Strain Db11: a Tool for Functional Genomics of an Opportunistic Human Pathogen
Microbiology (Reading, England). Jun, 2006 | Pubmed ID: 16735733
A bacteriophage (phiIF3) capable of mediating generalized transduction in Serratia marcescens strain Db11 has been isolated and characterized. The genome of this Serratia strain has recently been sequenced and is likely to become the reference strain for S. marcescens researchers. phiIF3 is most likely a virulent phage, which can transduce markers at frequencies of 10(-6) transductants per p.f.u. It has a lipopolysaccharide receptor and was determined to have a latent period of 50 min and a burst size of approximately 100 phages. The phage DNA was resistant to digestion with restriction enzymes. Electron microscopy showed phiIF3 to be a member of the family Myoviridae. This is the first report of a generalized transducing phage able to infect Db11 and this phage will be a valuable tool for functional genomic analysis of the pathogen host.
WormBook : the Online Review of C. Elegans Biology. 2006 | Pubmed ID: 18050470
Many pathogens that can infect C. elegans have been described, including some that co-exist with the nematode in its natural environment. This chapter describes our current understanding of the different innate immune responses of C. elegans that follow infection. It focuses on the main signalling pathways that have been identified and highlights the inclusion of certain molecular cassettes in both immune and developmental functions.
A Semi-automated High-throughput Approach to the Generation of Transposon Insertion Mutants in the Nematode Caenorhabditis Elegans
Nucleic Acids Research. 2007 | Pubmed ID: 17164286
The generation of a large collection of defined transposon insertion mutants is of general interest to the Caenorhabditis elegans research community and has been supported by the European Union. We describe here a semi-automated high-throughput method for mutant production and screening, using the heterologous transposon Mos1. The procedure allows routine culture of several thousand independent nematode strains in parallel for multiple generations before stereotyped molecular analyses. Using this method, we have already generated >17 500 individual strains carrying Mos1 insertions. It could be easily adapted to forward and reverse genetic screens and may influence researchers faced with making a choice of model organism.
Current Opinion in Microbiology. Feb, 2007 | Pubmed ID: 17178462
Diverse aspects of host-pathogen interactions have been studied using non-mammalian hosts such as Dictyostelium discoideum, Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster and Danio rerio for more than 20 years. Over the past two years, the use of these model hosts to dissect bacterial virulence mechanisms has been expanded to include the important human pathogens Vibrio cholerae and Yersinia pestis. Innovative approaches using these alternative hosts have also been developed, enabling the isolation of new antimicrobials through screening large libraries of compounds in a C. elegans Enterococcus faecalis infection model. Host proteins required by Mycobacterium and Listeria during their invasion and intracellular growth have been uncovered using high-throughput dsRNA screens in a Drosophila cell culture system, and immune evasion mechanisms deployed by Pseudomonas aeruginosa during its infection of flies have been identified. Together, these reports further illustrate the potential and relevance of these non-mammalian hosts for modelling many facets of bacterial infection in mammals.
Detection and Avoidance of a Natural Product from the Pathogenic Bacterium Serratia Marcescens by Caenorhabditis Elegans
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Feb, 2007 | Pubmed ID: 17267603
The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is present in soils and composts, where it can encounter a variety of microorganisms. Some bacteria in these rich environments are innocuous food sources for C. elegans, whereas others are pathogens. Under laboratory conditions, C. elegans will avoid certain pathogens, such as Serratia marcescens, by exiting a bacterial lawn a few hours after entering it. By combining bacterial genetics and nematode genetics, we show that C. elegans specifically avoids certain strains of Serratia based on their production of the cyclic lipodepsipentapeptide serrawettin W2. Lawn-avoidance behavior is chiefly mediated by the two AWB chemosensory neurons, probably through G protein-coupled chemoreceptors, and also involves the nematode Toll-like receptor gene tol-1. Purified serrawettin W2, added to an Escherichia coli lawn, can directly elicit lawn avoidance in an AWB-dependent fashion, as can another chemical detected by AWB. These findings represent an insight into chemical recognition between these two soil organisms and reveal sensory mechanisms for pathogen recognition in C. elegans.
Genome-wide Investigation Reveals Pathogen-specific and Shared Signatures in the Response of Caenorhabditis Elegans to Infection
Genome Biology. 2007 | Pubmed ID: 17875205
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.
Molecular Microbiology. Nov, 2007 | Pubmed ID: 17877707
Much attention is rightly focused on how microbes cause disease, but they can also affect other aspects of host physiology, including behaviour. Indeed, pathogen avoidance behaviours are seen across animal taxa and are probably of major importance in nature. Here, we review what is known about the molecular genetics underlying pathogen avoidance in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. In its natural environment, the soil, this animal feeds on microbes and is continuously exposed to a diverse mix of microorganisms. Nematodes that develop efficient behavioural responses that enhance their attraction to sources of food and avoidance of pathogens will have an evolutionary advantage. C. elegans can specifically detect natural products of bacteria, including surfactants (such as serrawettin) and acylated homoserine lactone autoinducers, and it can learn to avoid pathogenic species. To date, several distinct mechanisms have been shown to be involved in pathogen avoidance. They are based on G protein-like, insulin-like and neuronal serotonin signalling. We discuss recent findings on the mechanisms of pathogen recognition in C. elegans, the relationship between alternative behavioural defences and also between these and other life-history traits. We propose that the selective pressure associated with avoidance behaviours influence both pathogen and host evolution.
PLoS Pathogens. Nov, 2007 | Pubmed ID: 18039029
Serratia marcescens is an entomopathogenic bacterium that opportunistically infects a wide range of hosts, including humans. In a model of septic injury, if directly introduced into the body cavity of Drosophila, this pathogen is insensitive to the host's systemic immune response and kills flies in a day. We find that S. marcescens resistance to the Drosophila immune deficiency (imd)-mediated humoral response requires the bacterial lipopolysaccharide O-antigen. If ingested by Drosophila, bacteria cross the gut and penetrate the body cavity. During this passage, the bacteria can be observed within the cells of the intestinal epithelium. In such an oral infection model, the flies succumb to infection only after 6 days. We demonstrate that two complementary host defense mechanisms act together against such food-borne infection: an antimicrobial response in the intestine that is regulated by the imd pathway and phagocytosis by hemocytes of bacteria that have escaped into the hemolymph. Interestingly, bacteria present in the hemolymph elicit a systemic immune response only when phagocytosis is blocked. Our observations support a model wherein peptidoglycan fragments released during bacterial growth activate the imd pathway and do not back a proposed role for phagocytosis in the immune activation of the fat body. Thanks to the genetic tools available in both host and pathogen, the molecular dissection of the interactions between S. marcescens and Drosophila will provide a useful paradigm for deciphering intestinal pathogenesis.
Infection, Genetics and Evolution : Journal of Molecular Epidemiology and Evolutionary Genetics in Infectious Diseases. May, 2008 | Pubmed ID: 18321793
The emerging genomic technologies and bioinformatics provide novel opportunities for studying life-threatening human pathogens and to develop new applications for the improvement of human and animal health and the prevention, treatment, and diagnosis of infections. Based on the ecology and population biology of pathogens and related organisms and their connection to epidemiology, more accurate typing technologies and approaches will lead to better means of disease control. The analysis of the genome plasticity and gene pools of pathogenic bacteria including antigenic diversity and antigenic variation results in more effective vaccines and vaccine implementation programs. The study of newly identified and uncultivated microorganisms enables the identification of new threats. The scrutiny of the metabolism of the pathogen in the host allows the identification of new targets for anti-infectives and therapeutic approaches. The development of modulators of host responses and mediators of host damage will be facilitated by the research on interactions of microbes and hosts, including mechanisms of host damage, acute and chronic relationships as well as commensalisms. The study of multiple pathogenic and non-pathogenic microbes interacting in the host will improve the management of multiple infections and will allow probiotic and prebiotic interventions. Needless to iterate, the application of the results of improved prevention and treatment of infections into clinical tests will have a positive impact on the management of human and animal disease. The Pathogenomics Research Agenda draws on discussions with experts of the Network of Excellence "EuroPathoGenomics" at the management board meeting of the project held during 18-21 April 2007, in the Villa Vigoni, Menaggio, Italy. Based on a proposed European Research Agenda in the field of pathogenomics by the ERA-NET PathoGenoMics the meeting's participants updated the established list of topics as the research agenda for the future.
Current Biology : CB. Apr, 2008 | Pubmed ID: 18394898
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.
Anti-fungal Innate Immunity in C. Elegans is Enhanced by Evolutionary Diversification of Antimicrobial Peptides
PLoS Pathogens. Jul, 2008 | Pubmed ID: 18636113
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.
Nature Biotechnology. Aug, 2008 | Pubmed ID: 18660804
Plant-parasitic nematodes are major agricultural pests worldwide and novel approaches to control them are sorely needed. We report the draft genome sequence of the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita, a biotrophic parasite of many crops, including tomato, cotton and coffee. Most of the assembled sequence of this asexually reproducing nematode, totaling 86 Mb, exists in pairs of homologous but divergent segments. This suggests that ancient allelic regions in M. incognita are evolving toward effective haploidy, permitting new mechanisms of adaptation. The number and diversity of plant cell wall-degrading enzymes in M. incognita is unprecedented in any animal for which a genome sequence is available, and may derive from multiple horizontal gene transfers from bacterial sources. Our results provide insights into the adaptations required by metazoans to successfully parasitize immunocompetent plants, and open the way for discovering new antiparasitic strategies.
Negative Regulation of Caenorhabditis Elegans Epidermal Damage Responses by Death-associated Protein Kinase
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Feb, 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19164535
Wounding of epidermal layers triggers multiple coordinated responses to damage. We show here that the Caenorhabditis elegans ortholog of the tumor suppressor death-associated protein kinase, dapk-1, acts as a previously undescribed negative regulator of barrier repair and innate immune responses to wounding. Loss of DAPK-1 function results in constitutive formation of scar-like structures in the cuticle, and up-regulation of innate immune responses to damage. Overexpression of DAPK-1 represses innate immune responses to needle wounding. Up-regulation of innate immune responses in dapk-1 requires the TIR-1/p38 signal transduction pathway; loss of function in this pathway synergizes with dapk-1 to drastically reduce adult lifespan. Our results reveal a previously undescribed function for the DAPK tumor suppressor family in regulation of epithelial damage responses.
Neuroimmune Regulation of Antimicrobial Peptide Expression by a Noncanonical TGF-beta Signaling Pathway in Caenorhabditis Elegans Epidermis
Nature Immunology. Mar, 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19198592
After being infected by the fungus Drechmeria coniospora, Caenorhabditis elegans produces antimicrobial peptides in its epidermis, some regulated by a signaling cascade involving a p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. Here we show that infection-induced expression of peptides of the Caenacin family occurred independently of the p38 pathway. The caenacin (cnc) genes enhanced survival after fungal infection, and neuronal expression of the transforming growth factor-beta homolog DBL-1 promoted cnc-2 expression in the epidermis in a dose-dependent paracrine way. Our results lead to a model in which antifungal defenses are coordinately regulated by a cell-autonomous p38 cascade and a distinct cytokine-like transforming growth factor-beta signal from the nervous system, each of which controls distinct sets of antimicrobial peptide-encoding genes in the epidermis.
Antifungal Innate Immunity in C. Elegans: PKCdelta Links G Protein Signaling and a Conserved P38 MAPK Cascade
Cell Host & Microbe. Apr, 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19380113
Like other multicellular organisms, the model nematode C. elegans responds to infection by inducing the expression of defense genes. Among the genes upregulated in response to a natural fungal pathogen is nlp-29, encoding an antimicrobial peptide. In a screen for mutants that fail to express nlp-29 following fungal infection, we isolated alleles of tpa-1, homologous to the mammalian protein kinase C (PKC) delta. Through epistasis analyses, we demonstrate that C. elegans PKC acts through the p38 MAPK pathway to regulate nlp-29. This involves G protein signaling and specific C-type phospholipases acting upstream of PKCdelta. Unexpectedly and unlike in mammals, tpa-1 does not act via D-type protein kinases, but another C. elegans PKC gene, pkc-3, functions nonredundantly with tpa-1 to control nlp-29 expression. Finally, the tribbles-like kinase nipi-3 acts upstream of PKCdelta in this antifungal immune signaling cascade. These findings greatly expand our understanding of the pathways involved in C. elegans innate immunity.
Caenorhabditis Elegans Semi-automated Liquid Screen Reveals a Specialized Role for the Chemotaxis Gene CheB2 in Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Virulence
PLoS Pathogens. Aug, 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19662168
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic human pathogen that causes infections in a variety of animal and plant hosts. Caenorhabditis elegans is a simple model with which one can identify bacterial virulence genes. Previous studies with C. elegans have shown that depending on the growth medium, P. aeruginosa provokes different pathologies: slow or fast killing, lethal paralysis and red death. In this study, we developed a high-throughput semi-automated liquid-based assay such that an entire genome can readily be scanned for virulence genes in a short time period. We screened a 2,200-member STM mutant library generated in a cystic fibrosis airway P. aeruginosa isolate, TBCF10839. Twelve mutants were isolated each showing at least 70% attenuation in C. elegans killing. The selected mutants had insertions in regulatory genes, such as a histidine kinase sensor of two-component systems and a member of the AraC family, or in genes involved in adherence or chemotaxis. One mutant had an insertion in a cheB gene homologue, encoding a methylesterase involved in chemotaxis (CheB2). The cheB2 mutant was tested in a murine lung infection model and found to have a highly attenuated virulence. The cheB2 gene is part of the chemotactic gene cluster II, which was shown to be required for an optimal mobility in vitro. In P. aeruginosa, the main player in chemotaxis and mobility is the chemotactic gene cluster I, including cheB1. We show that, in contrast to the cheB2 mutant, a cheB1 mutant is not attenuated for virulence in C. elegans whereas in vitro motility and chemotaxis are severely impaired. We conclude that the virulence defect of the cheB2 mutant is not linked with a global motility defect but that instead the cheB2 gene is involved in a specific chemotactic response, which takes place during infection and is required for P. aeruginosa pathogenicity.
SMF-1, SMF-2 and SMF-3 DMT1 Orthologues Regulate and Are Regulated Differentially by Manganese Levels in C. Elegans
PloS One. 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19924247
Manganese (Mn) is an essential metal that can exert toxic effects at high concentrations, eventually leading to Parkinsonism. A major transporter of Mn in mammals is the divalent-metal transporter (DMT1). We characterize here DMT1-like proteins in the nematode C. elegans, which regulate and are regulated by Mn and iron (Fe) content. We identified three new DMT1-like genes in C. elegans: smf-1, smf-2 and smf-3. All three can functionally substitute for loss of their yeast orthologues in S. cerevisiae. In the worm, deletion of smf-1 or smf-3 led to an increased Mn tolerance, while loss of smf-2 led to increased Mn sensitivity. smf mRNA levels measured by QRT-PCR were up-regulated upon low Mn and down-regulated upon high Mn exposures. Translational GFP-fusions revealed that SMF-1 and SMF-3 strongly localize to partially overlapping apical regions of the gut epithelium, suggesting a differential role for SMF-1 and SMF-3 in Mn nutritional intake. Conversely, SMF-2 was detected in the marginal pharyngeal epithelium, possibly involved in metal-sensing. Analysis of metal content upon Mn exposure in smf mutants revealed that SMF-3 is required for normal Mn uptake, while smf-1 was dispensable. Higher smf-2 mRNA levels correlated with higher Fe content, supporting a role for SMF-2 in Fe uptake. In smf-1 and smf-3 but not in smf-2 mutants, increased Mn exposure led to decreased Fe levels, suggesting that both metals compete for transport by SMF-2. Finally, SMF-3 was post-translationally and reversibly down-regulated following Mn-exposure. In sum, we unraveled a complex interplay of transcriptional and post-translational regulations of 3 DMT1-like transporters in two adjacent tissues, which regulate metal-content in C. elegans.
Current Biology : CB. May, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20504757
Host cells secrete antimicrobial proteins en masse to counter extracellular pathogens, placing a strain on the endoplasmic reticulum. The interplay between defence and cellular homeostasis has now been dissected genetically in Caenorhabditis elegans.
The Fatty Acid Synthase Fasn-1 Acts Upstream of WNK and Ste20/GCK-VI Kinases to Modulate Antimicrobial Peptide Expression in C. Elegans Epidermis
Virulence. May-Jun, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 21178429
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 up-regulated 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.
Disease Models & Mechanisms. May, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21504910
For almost four decades, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been of great value in many fields of biological research. It is now used extensively in studies of microbial pathogenesis and innate immunity. The worm lacks an adaptive immune system and relies solely on its innate immune defences to cope with pathogen attack. Infectious microbes, many of which are of clinical interest, trigger specific mechanisms of innate immunity, and provoke the expression of antifungal or antibacterial polypeptides. In this review, we highlight some of these families of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and proteins that are candidates for the development of novel antibiotics. In addition, we describe how systems of C. elegans infection provide an increasing number of possibilities for large-scale in vivo screens for the discovery of new antimicrobial drugs. These systems open promising perspectives for innovative human therapies.
Unusual Regulation of a STAT Protein by an SLC6 Family Transporter in C. Elegans Epidermal Innate Immunity
Cell Host & Microbe. May, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21575913
The cuticle and epidermis of Caenorhabditis elegans provide the first line of defense against invading pathogens. Upon invasion by the fungal pathogen Drechmeria coniospora, C. elegans responds by upregulating the expression of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in the epidermis via activation of at least two pathways, a neuroendocrine TGF-β pathway and a p38 MAPK pathway. Here, we identify the sodium-neurotransmitter symporter SNF-12, a member of the solute carrier family (SLC6), as being essential for both these immune signaling pathways. We also identify the STAT transcription factor-like protein STA-2 as a direct physical interactor of SNF-12 and show that the two proteins function together to regulate AMP gene expression in the epidermis. Both SNF-12 and STA-2 act cell autonomously and specifically in the epidermis to govern the transcriptional response to fungal infection. These findings reveal an unorthodox mode of regulation for a STAT factor and highlight the molecular plasticity of innate immune signaling.
A Comprehensive Analysis of Gene Expression Changes Provoked by Bacterial and Fungal Infection in C. Elegans
PloS One. 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21602919
While Caenorhabditis elegans specifically responds to infection by the up-regulation of certain genes, distinct pathogens trigger the expression of a common set of genes. We applied new methods to conduct a comprehensive and comparative study of the transcriptional response of C. elegans to bacterial and fungal infection. Using tiling arrays and/or RNA-sequencing, we have characterized the genome-wide transcriptional changes that underlie the host's response to infection by three bacterial (Serratia marcescens, Enterococcus faecalis and otorhabdus luminescens) and two fungal pathogens (Drechmeria coniospora and Harposporium sp.). We developed a flexible tool, the WormBase Converter (available at http://wormbasemanager.sourceforge.net/), to allow cross-study comparisons. The new data sets provided more extensive lists of differentially regulated genes than previous studies. Annotation analysis confirmed that genes commonly up-regulated by bacterial infections are related to stress responses. We found substantial overlaps between the genes regulated upon intestinal infection by the bacterial pathogens and Harposporium, and between those regulated by Harposporium and D. coniospora, which infects the epidermis. Among the fungus-regulated genes, there was a significant bias towards genes that are evolving rapidly and potentially encode small proteins. The results obtained using new methods reveal that the response to infection in C. elegans is determined by the nature of the pathogen, the site of infection and the physiological imbalance provoked by infection. They form the basis for future functional dissection of innate immune signaling. Finally, we also propose alternative methods to identify differentially regulated genes that take into account the greater variability in lowly expressed genes.
PloS One. 2012 | Pubmed ID: 22347378
Methods that use homologous recombination to engineer the genome of C. elegans commonly use strains carrying specific insertions of the heterologous transposon Mos1. A large collection of known Mos1 insertion alleles would therefore be of general interest to the C. elegans research community. We describe here the optimization of a semi-automated methodology for the construction of a substantial collection of Mos1 insertion mutant strains. At peak production, more than 5,000 strains were generated per month. These strains were then subject to molecular analysis, and more than 13,300 Mos1 insertions characterized. In addition to targeting directly more than 4,700 genes, these alleles represent the potential starting point for the engineered deletion of essentially all C. elegans genes and the modification of more than 40% of them. This collection of mutants, generated under the auspices of the European NEMAGENETAG consortium, is publicly available and represents an important research resource.