GATA transcription factor as a likely key regulator of the Caenorhabditis elegans innate immune response against gut pathogens.

Wentao Yang, Katja Dierking, Philip C Rosenstiel, Hinrich Schulenburg
Year of publication:
Journal title abbreviated:
Zoology (Jena)
Journal title long:
Zoology (Jena, Germany)
Impact factor:
Invertebrate defence against pathogens exclusively relies on components of the innate immune system. Comprehensive information has been collected over the last years on the molecular components of invertebrate immunity and the involved signalling processes, especially for the main invertebrate model species, the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Yet, the exact regulation of general and specific defences is still not well understood. In the current study, we take advantage of a recently established database, WormExp, which combines all available gene expression studies for C. elegans, in order to explore commonalities and differences in the regulation of nematode immune defence against a large variety of pathogens versus food microbes. We identified significant overlaps in the transcriptional response towards microbes, especially pathogenic bacteria. We also found that the GATA motif is overrepresented in many microbe-induced gene sets and in targets of other previously identified regulators of worm immunity. Moreover, the activated targets of one of the known C. elegans GATA transcription factors, ELT-2, are significantly enriched in the gene sets, which are differentially regulated by gut-infecting pathogens. These findings strongly suggest that GATA transcription factors and particularly ELT-2 play a central role in regulating the C. elegans immune response against gut pathogens. More specific responses to distinct pathogens may be mediated by additional transcription factors, either acting alone or jointly with GATA transcription factors. Taken together, our analysis of the worm's transcriptional response to microbes provides a new perspective on the C. elegans immune system, which we propose to be coordinated by GATA transcription factor ELT-2 in the gut.