Accepted post-doctoral position at Columbia University after receiving PhD
Continuing research training as a Clinical Microbiology Fellow at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Caenorhabditis elegans has recently been developed as a model system to study both pathogen virulence mechanisms and host defense responses. We have shown that C. elegans produces reactive oxygen species (ROS) in response to exposure to the important Gram-positive, nosocomial pathogen, Enterococcus faecalis. We have also shown evidence of oxidative stress and upregulation of stress response after exposure to the pathogen. As in mammalian systems, this work shows that production of ROS for innate immune functions occurs via an NADPH oxidase. Specifically, reducing expression of a dual oxidase, Ce-duox1/BLI-3 causes a decrease in ROS production in response toE. faecalis. We also present evidence that reduction of expression of Ce-duox1/BLI-3 increases susceptibility to this pathogen, specifically when expression is reduced in the intestine and the hypodermis. This dual oxidase has previously been localized to the hypodermis, but we show that it is additionally localized to the intestine of C. elegans. To further demonstrate the protective effects of the pathogen-induced ROS production, we demonstrate that antioxidants that scavenge ROS increase the sensitivity of the nematode to the infection, in stark contrast to their longevity-promoting effects under non-pathogenic conditions. In conclusion, we postulate that the generation of ROS by NADPH oxidases in the barrier epithelium is an ancient, highly conserved innate immune defense mechanism.
A dual oxidase generates a protective oxidative burst during infection in C. elegans