Evolution of host innate defence: insights from Caenorhabditis elegans and primitive invertebrates

Nat Rev Immunol. 2010 Jan;10(1):47-58. doi: 10.1038/nri2689.


The genetically tractable model organism Caenorhabditis elegans was first used to model bacterial virulence in vivo a decade ago. Since then, great strides have been made in identifying the host response pathways that are involved in its defence against infection. Strikingly, C. elegans seems to detect, and respond to, infection without the involvement of its homologue of Toll-like receptors, in contrast to the well-established role for these proteins in innate immunity in mammals. What, therefore, do we know about host defence mechanisms in C. elegans and what can they tell us about innate immunity in higher organisms?

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / immunology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / immunology
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / genetics
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / immunology
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics*
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins