Methods in Molecular Biology Volume 954, 2013, pp 439-461

The Caenorhabditis elegans Model of Legionella Infection

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Abstract

Caenorhabditis elegans can serve as a simple genetic host to study interactions between Legionellaceae and their hosts, and to examine the contribution of specific gene products to virulence and immunity. C. elegans nematodes have several appealing attributes as a host organism; they are inexpensive, have robust genetic analysis tools, have a simple anatomy yet display a wide range of complex behaviors, and, as invertebrates, do not require animal ethics protocols. Use of C. elegans as a host model complements cell-based models, providing additional support and consistency of the experimental data obtained from multiple models. The C. elegans innate immune system functions similarly to that of the alveolar macrophage including the apoptosis [e.g. programmed cell death (PCD)] pathway located within the germline. The digestive tract of C. elegans is a primary interface between the innate immune system and bacterial pathogens. Thus, the C. elegans host model provides an alternative approach to investigate Legionella pneumophila immunopathogenesis.