Genetics of nematode immunity and development
Co-workers: Dr Maria Gravato-Nobre Dr Delia O’Rourke Dr Frederick Partridge Mr Dave Stroud
The nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans provides a major model system for examining many different biological problems. Our research makes use of C. elegans for investigations into genetics, immunity and development, with particular reference to nematode-bacterial interactions and innate immunity. Innate immunity provides the first line of defence against pathogens and depends on conserved signalling pathways, which also play important roles in development. We wish to understand both the immune and the developmental aspects of these pathways. Most of our current work is directed at understanding how C. elegans detects and defends itself against pathogenic or toxic bacteria, and examining its interaction with a nematode-specific pathogen called Microbacterium nematophilum, as well as broad-spectrum pathogens such as Staphyloccus aureus.
Immune responses to infection result in the production of candidate antibacterial factors, which we have identified by means of microarray analysis and are now studying in greater detail. Investigation of mechanical barriers against infection have led us to analyse the formation of the collagenous cuticle of the worm, and to explore collagen deposition and related morphogenetic events during development and disease.
We are also studying developmental morphogenesis; sex determination; informational suppression; genome stability and gene interaction; gene mapping and genomics.
- Nicholas HR, Hodgkin J (2009) The C. elegans Hox gene egl-5 is required for correct development of the hermaphrodite hindgut and for the response to rectal infection by Microbacterium nematophilum. Developmental Biology 329: 16-24
- Partridge FA, Tearle AW, Gravato-Nobre MJ, Schafer WR, Hodgkin J (2008) The C. elegans glycosyltransferase BUS-8 has two distinct and essential roles in epidermal morphogenesis. Developmental Biology 317: 549-559
- Gravato-Nobre MJ, Hodgkin J (2008) The acyltransferase gene bus-1 exhibits conserved and specific expression in nematode rectal cells and reveals pathogen-induced cell swelling. Developmental Dynamics 237: 3762-3776
- Novelli J, Page AP, Hodgkin J (2006) The C-terminus of collagen SQT-3 has complex and essential functions in nematode collagen assembly. Genetics 172: 2253-2267
- O’Rourke D, Baban D, Demidova M, Mott R, Hodgkin J (2006) Genomic clusters, putative pathogen recognition molecules and antimicrobial genes are induced by infection of C. elegans with M. nematophilum. Genome Research 16: 1005-1016
Figure 1: Worm tail with infecting bacteria
Figure 2: Expression of ilys genes in worm pharynx
Figure 3: Cell junctions in mutant worm embryo
Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Positions: Enquiries with CV welcome