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Caenorhabditis elegans, a model organism for investigating immunity.Marsh, Elizabeth K; May, Robin C; University of Birmingham (2012-03-09)The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been a powerful experimental organism for almost half a century. Over the past 10 years, researchers have begun to exploit the power of C. elegans to investigate the biology of a number of human pathogens. This work has uncovered mechanisms of host immunity and pathogen virulence that are analogous to those involved during pathogenesis in humans or other animal hosts, as well as novel immunity mechanisms which appear to be unique to the worm. More recently, these investigations have uncovered details of the natural pathogens of C. elegans, including the description of a novel intracellular microsporidian parasite as well as new nodaviruses, the first identification of viral infections of this nematode. In this review, we consider the application of C. elegans to human infectious disease research, as well as consider the nematode response to these natural pathogens.
A two-gene balance regulates Salmonella typhimurium tolerance in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.Marsh, Elizabeth K; van den Berg, Maaike C W; May, Robin C; University of Birmingham (Public Library of Science, 2011-03-02)Lysozymes are antimicrobial enzymes that perform a critical role in resisting infection in a wide-range of eukaryotes. However, using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model host we now demonstrate that deletion of the protist type lysozyme LYS-7 renders animals susceptible to killing by the fatal fungal human pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans, but, remarkably, enhances tolerance to the enteric bacteria Salmonella Typhimurium. This trade-off in immunological susceptibility in C. elegans is further mediated by the reciprocal activity of lys-7 and the tyrosine kinase abl-1. Together this implies a greater complexity in C. elegans innate immune function than previously thought.