Antimicrobial peptides in Caenorhabditis elegans
Keywords:caenacins, ABFs, caenopores, insulin signalling, immunity, host-pathogen interaction
The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is one of the most successful model species for
experimental research because of its sequenced genome, the versatile genetic toolkit and the
straightforward breeding among others. In natural conditions however, this tiny worm is constantly surrounded by micro-organisms, simultaneously a source of indispensable nutrition and inevitable pathogens. Lacking an adaptive immune system, the worm solely relies on its innate immune defence to cope with its challenging life style. Hence C. elegans is an excellent model to gain more insight in innate immunity, which is remarkably preserved between invertebrate and vertebrate animals. The innate defence consists of receptors to detect potential pathogens, a complex network of signalling pathways and last but not least, effector molecules to abolish harmful microbes. In this review, we focus on the antimicrobial peptides, a vital subgroup of effector molecules. We summarise the current knowledge of the different families of C. elegans antimicrobial peptides, comprising NLPs, caenacins, ABFs, caenopores, and a recently discovered group with antifungal activity among which thaumatinlike proteins.