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Curr Biol. 2003 Jan 8;13(1):47-52.

Caenorhabditis elegans innate immune response triggered by Salmonella enterica requires intact LPS and is mediated by a MAPK signaling pathway.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, 02114, Boston, MA, USA.


Compared to mammals, insects, and plants, relatively little is known about innate immune responses in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Previous work showed that Salmonella enterica serovars cause a persistent infection in the C. elegans intestine that triggers gonadal programmed cell death (PCD) and that C. elegans cell death (ced) mutants are more susceptible to Salmonella-mediated killing. To further dissect the role of PCD in C. elegans innate immunity, we identified both C. elegans and S. enterica factors that affect the elicitation of Salmonella-induced PCD. Salmonella-elicited PCD was shown to require the C. elegans homolog of the mammalian p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) encoded by the pmk-1 gene. Inactivation of pmk-1 by RNAi blocked Salmonella-elicited PCD, and epistasis analysis showed that CED-9 lies downstream of PMK-1. Wild-type Salmonella lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was also shown to be required for the elicitation of PCD, as well as for persistence of Salmonella in the C. elegans intestine. However, a presumptive C. elegans TOLL signaling pathway did not appear to be required for the PCD response to Salmonella. These results establish a PMK-1-dependant PCD pathway as a C. elegans innate immune response to Salmonella.

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