Recovery from an acute infection in C. elegans requires the GATA transcription factor ELT-2.
ABSTRACT: The mechanisms involved in the recognition of microbial pathogens and activation of the immune system have been extensively studied. However, the mechanisms involved in the recovery phase of an infection are incompletely characterized at both the cellular and physiological levels. Here, we establish a Caenorhabditis elegans-Salmonella enterica model of acute infection and antibiotic treatment for studying biological changes during the resolution phase of an infection. Using whole genome expression profiles of acutely infected animals, we found that genes that are markers of innate immunity are down-regulated upon recovery, while genes involved in xenobiotic detoxification, redox regulation, and cellular homeostasis are up-regulated. In silico analyses demonstrated that genes altered during recovery from infection were transcriptionally regulated by conserved transcription factors, including GATA/ELT-2, FOXO/DAF-16, and Nrf/SKN-1. Finally, we found that recovery from an acute bacterial infection is dependent on ELT-2 activity.
Project description:GATA transcription factors play a crucial role in the regulation of immune functions across metazoans. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the GATA transcription factor ELT-2 is involved in the control of not only infections but also recovery after an infection. We identified RPT-6, part of the 19S proteasome subunit, as an ELT-2 binding partner that is required for the proper expression of genes required for both immunity against bacterial infections and recovery after infection. We found that the intact ATPase domain of RPT-6 is required for the interaction and that inhibition of rpt-6 affected the expression of ELT-2-controlled genes, preventing the appropriate immune response against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and recovery from infection by the pathogen. Further studies indicated that SKN-1, which is an Nrf transcription factor involved in the response to oxidative stress and infection, is activated by inhibition of rpt-6. Our results indicate that RPT-6 interacts with ELT-2 in vivo to control the expression of immune genes in a manner that is likely independent of the proteolytic activity of the proteasome.
Project description:Cellular damage caused by reactive oxygen species is believed to be a major contributor to age-associated diseases. Previously, we characterized the Caenorhabditis elegans Brap2 ortholog (BRAP-2) and found that it is required to prevent larval arrest in response to elevated levels of oxidative stress. Here, we report that C. elegans brap-2 mutants display increased expression of SKN-1-dependent, phase II detoxification enzymes that is dependent on PMK-1 (a p38 MAPK C. elegans ortholog). An RNA-interference screen was conducted using a transcription factor library to identify genes required for increased expression of the SKN-1 target gst-4 in brap-2 mutants. We identified ELT-3, a member of the GATA transcription factor family, as a positive regulator of gst-4p::gfp expression. We found that ELT-3 interacts with SKN-1 to activate gst-4 transcription in vitro and that elt-3 is required for enhanced gst-4 expression in the brap-2(ok1492) mutant in vivo Furthermore, nematodes overexpressing SKN-1 required ELT-3 for life-span extension. Taken together, these results suggest a model where BRAP-2 acts as negative regulator of SKN-1 through inhibition of p38 MAPK activity, and that the GATA transcription factor ELT-3 is required along with SKN-1 for the phase II detoxification response in C. elegans.
Project description:To define the C. elegans aging process at the molecular level, we used DNA microarray experiments to identify a set of 1294 age-regulated genes and found that the GATA transcription factors ELT-3, ELT-5, and ELT-6 are responsible for age regulation of a large fraction of these genes. Expression of elt-5 and elt-6 increases during normal aging, and both of these GATA factors repress expression of elt-3, which shows a corresponding decrease in expression in old worms. elt-3 regulates a large number of downstream genes that change expression in old age, including ugt-9, col-144, and sod-3. elt-5(RNAi) and elt-6(RNAi) worms have extended longevity, indicating that elt-3, elt-5, and elt-6 play an important functional role in the aging process. These results identify a transcriptional circuit that guides the rapid aging process in C. elegans and indicate that this circuit is driven by drift of developmental pathways rather than accumulation of damage.
Project description:Infectious diseases caused by bacterial pathogens reduce the fitness of their associated host but are generally limited in duration. In order for the diseased host to regain any lost fitness upon recovery, a variety of molecular, cellular, and physiological processes must be employed. To better understand mechanisms underlying the recovery process, we have modeled an acute Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in C. elegans using brief exposures to this pathogen and subsequent antibiotic treatment. To identify host genes altered during recovery from P. aeruginosa infection, we performed whole genome expression profiling. The analysis of this dataset indicated that the activity of the host immune system is down-regulated upon recovery and revealed shared and pathogen-specific host responses during recovery. We determined that the GATA transcription factor ELT-2 and the p38 MAP kinase PMK-1 are necessary for animals to successfully recover from an acute P. aeruginosa infection. In addition, we found that ELT-2 plays a more prominent and earlier role than PMK-1 during recovery. Our data sheds further light on the molecular mechanisms and transcriptional programs involved in recovery from an acute bacterial infection, which provides a better understanding of the entire infectious disease process.
Project description:GATA transcription factors play critical roles in cellular differentiation and development. However, their roles in mature tissues are less understood. In C. elegans larvae, the transcription factor ELT-2 regulates terminal differentiation of the intestine. It is also expressed in the adult intestine, where it was suggested to maintain intestinal structure and function, and where it was additionally shown to contribute to infection resistance. To study the function of elt-2 in adults we characterized elt-2-dependent gene expression following its knock-down specifically in adults. Microarray analysis identified two ELT-2-regulated gene subsets: one, enriched for hydrolytic enzymes, pointed at regulation of constitutive digestive functions as a dominant role of adult elt-2; the second was enriched for immune genes that are induced in response to Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. Focusing on the latter, we used genetic analyses coupled to survival assays and quantitative RT-PCR to interrogate the mechanism(s) through which elt-2 contributes to immunity. We show that elt-2 controls p38-dependent gene induction, cooperating with two p38-activated transcription factors, ATF-7 and SKN-1. This demonstrates a mechanism through which the constitutively nuclear elt-2 can impact induced responses, and play a dominant role in C. elegans immunity.
Project description:To understand the molecular processes underlying aging, we screened modENCODE ChIP-seq data to identify transcription factors that bind to age-regulated genes in C. elegans. The most significant hit was the GATA transcription factor encoded by elt-2, which is responsible for inducing expression of intestinal genes during embryogenesis. Expression of ELT-2 decreases during aging, beginning in middle age. We identified genes regulated by ELT-2 in the intestine during embryogenesis, and then showed that these developmental genes markedly decrease in expression as worms grow old. Overexpression of elt-2 extends lifespan and slows the rate of gene expression changes that occur during normal aging. Thus, our results identify the developmental regulator ELT-2 as a major driver of normal aging in C. elegans.
Project description:The two GATA transcription factors ELT-2 and ELT-7 function in the differentiation of the C. elegans intestine. ELT-2 loss causes lethality. ELT-7 loss causes no obvious phenotype but enhances the elt-2(-) intestinal phenotype. Thus, ELT-2 and ELT-7 appear partially redundant, with ELT-2 being more influential. To investigate the different regulatory roles of ELT-2 and ELT-7, we compared the transcriptional profiles of pure populations of wild-type, elt-2(-), elt-7(-), and elt-7(-); elt-2(-) double mutant L1-stage larvae. Consistent with the mutant phenotypes, loss of ELT-2 had a>25 fold greater influence on the number of significantly altered transcripts compared to the loss of ELT-7; nonetheless, the levels of numerous transcripts changed upon loss of ELT-7 in the elt-2(-) background. The quantitative responses of individual genes revealed a more complicated behaviour than simple redundancy/partial redundancy. In particular, genes expressed only in the intestine showed three distinguishable classes of response in the different mutant backgrounds. One class of genes responded as if ELT-2 is the major transcriptional activator and ELT-7 provides variable compensatory input. For a second class, transcript levels increased upon loss of ELT-2 but decreased upon further loss of ELT-7, suggesting that ELT-7 actually overcompensates for the loss of ELT-2. For a third class, transcript levels also increased upon loss of ELT-2 but remained elevated upon further loss of ELT-7, suggesting overcompensation by some other intestinal transcription factor(s). In spite of its minor loss-of-function phenotype and its limited sequence similarity to ELT-2, ELT-7 expressed under control of the elt-2 promoter is able to rescue elt-2(-) lethality. Indeed, appropriately expressed ELT-7, like appropriately expressed ELT-2, is able to replace all other core GATA factors in the C. elegans endodermal pathway. Overall, this study focuses attention on the quantitative intricacies behind apparent redundancy or partial redundancy of two related transcription factors.
Project description:Extracellular matrix barriers and inducible cytoprotective genes form successive lines of defense against chemical and microbial environmental stressors. The barrier in nematodes is a collagenous extracellular matrix called the cuticle. In Caenorhabditis elegans, disruption of some cuticle collagen genes activates osmolyte and antimicrobial response genes. Physical damage to the epidermis also activates antimicrobial responses. Here, we assayed the effect of knocking down genes required for cuticle and epidermal integrity on diverse cellular stress responses. We found that disruption of specific bands of collagen, called annular furrows, coactivates detoxification, hyperosmotic, and antimicrobial response genes, but not other stress responses. Disruption of other cuticle structures and epidermal integrity does not have the same effect. Several transcription factors act downstream of furrow loss. SKN-1/Nrf and ELT-3/GATA are required for detoxification, SKN-1/Nrf is partially required for the osmolyte response, and STA-2/Stat and ELT-3/GATA for antimicrobial gene expression. Our results are consistent with a cuticle-associated damage sensor that coordinates detoxification, hyperosmotic, and antimicrobial responses through overlapping, but distinct, downstream signaling.
Project description:Cell fate specification is mediated primarily through the expression of cell-type-specific genes. The regulatory pathway that governs the sperm/egg decision in the hermaphrodite germ line of Caenorhabditis elegans has been well characterized, but the transcription factors that drive these developmental programs remain unknown. We report the identification of ELT-1, a GATA transcription factor that specifies hypodermal fate in the embryo, as a regulator of sperm-specific transcription in the germ line. Computational analysis identified a conserved bipartite sequence element that is found almost exclusively in the promoters of a number of sperm genes. ELT-1 was recovered in a yeast one-hybrid screen for factors that bind to that sperm consensus site. In vitro assays defined the sperm consensus sequence as an optimal binding site for ELT-1. We determined that expression of elt-1 is elevated in the sperm-producing germ line, and that ELT-1 is required for sperm function. Deletion of the ELT-1 binding site from a sperm promoter abrogates sperm-specific expression of a reporter transgene. This work demonstrates a role for the ELT-1 transcription factor in sperm, and provides a critical link between the germ line sex determination program and gamete-specific gene expression.
Project description:The short, asymmetrical DNA sequence to which the vertebrate GATA family of transcription factors binds is present in some Caenorhabditis elegans gene regulatory regions: it is required for activation of the vitellogenin genes and is also found just 5' of the TATA boxes of tra-2 and the msp genes. In vertebrates GATA-1 is specific to erythroid lineages, whereas GATA-2 and GATA-3 are present in multiple tissues. In an effort to identify the trans-acting factors that may recognize this sequence element in C. elegans, we used a degenerate oligonucleotide to clone a C. elegans homolog to this gene. We call this gene elt-1 (erythrocytelike transcription factor). It is single copy and specifies a 1.75-kb mRNA that is present predominantly, if not exclusively, in embryos. The region of elt-1 encoding two zinc fingers is remarkably similar to the DNA-binding domain of the vertebrate GATA-binding proteins. However, outside of the DNA-binding domains the amino acid sequences are quite divergent. Nevertheless, introns are located at identical or nearly identical positions in elt-1 and the mouse GATA-1 gene. In addition, elt-1 mRNA is trans-spliced to the 22-base untranslated leader, SL1. The DNA upstream of the elt-1 TATA box contains eight copies of the GATA recognition sequence within the first 300 bp, suggesting that elt-1 may be autogenously regulated. Our results suggest that the specialized role of GATA-1 in erythroid gene expression was derived after separation of the nematodes and the line that led to the vertebrates, since C. elegans lacks an erythroid lineage.