European C. elegans meeting location:Carmona, Spain date:March 29- April 2 2008
The striking similarities between vertebrates and invertebrates in their innate defences as well as the amenability of Caenorhabditis elegans for genetic analysis, have made this free-living ground nematode a popular model system in the study of bacterial pathogenesis. Although genetic studies have brought new insights, showing the inducibility and pathogen-specificity of the immune response, there is still much to be discovered about the exact mechanisms underlying resistance to infection. Our group has tried to uncover a few of the remaining questions by approaching immunity from a different angle. We report the application of differential gel electrophoresis (DIGE), combined with mass spectrometry to search for proteins that are differentially expressed in the worm after infection with the gram-negative bacteria Aeromonas hydrophila. A total of 62 proteins were identified. Interestingly, the most strongly induced protein was galactose binding lectin (lec-1) which is believed to play a role as a pathogen recognition molecule. Another interesting protein induced after infection was DAF-16, confirming its role in the insulin-like receptor immune pathway. In addition a number of unknown proteins, not yet associated with the immune response, were isolated and identified.
Determining the exact function (recognition/effector) of all these proteins in the immune system of C. elegans, remains a very exciting challenge which will shed more light on the complexity of innate immunity in general.