Pathogen response genes mediate Caenorhabditis elegans innate immunity
Innate immunity is crucial in the response and defense against pathogens for invertebrates and vertebrates alike. The soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a useful model to study the eukaryotic innate immune response to microbial pathogenesis. Prior research indicates that the protein receptor FSHR-1 plays an important role in the innate recognition of intestinal infection due to pathogen consumption (Powell et al. 2009). Determining which genes are controlled by FSHR-1 may uncover an unknown pathway that could increase not only the comprehension of the C. elegans immune system but also innate immunity generally. To characterize the function of FSHR-1, four candidate pathogen response genes that appear to be regulated by FSHR-1 were evaluated in worms infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Although intestine-specific RNA interference of these four genes did not show immunity phenotypes, quantitative PCR suggests that FSHR-1 regulates the basal and/or infection-induced expression of three of the four genes. To explore this FSHR-1-dependent transcriptional induction, fluorescent transgenic reporters were constructed for the three candidate FSHR-1 target genes. The spatial expression of one putative pathogen response gene was characterized in transgenic worms under both infected and un-infected conditions. RNA interference was performed to assess the FSHR-1 dependency of this expression pattern.