Evolutionary perspectives on innate immunity from the study of Caenorhabditis elegans

Curr Opin Immunol. 2005 Feb;17(1):4-10. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2004.11.007.


Genetic and functional genomic approaches have begun to define the molecular determinants of pathogen resistance in Caenorhabditis elegans. Conserved signal transduction components are required for pathogen resistance, including a Toll/IL-1 receptor domain adaptor protein that functions upstream of a conserved p38 MAP kinase pathway. We suggest that this pathway is an ancestral innate immune signaling pathway present in the common ancestor of nematodes, arthropods and vertebrates, which is likely to predate the involvement of canonical Toll signaling pathways in innate immunity. We anticipate that the study of pathogen resistance in C. elegans will continue to provide evolutionary and mechanistic insights into the signal transduction and physiology of innate immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / immunology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / immunology*
  • Genes, Helminth / genetics
  • Genes, Helminth / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / genetics
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / immunology*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins