Nature Reviews Immunology 10, 47-58 (January 2010) | doi:10.1038/nri2689

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

Javier E. Irazoqui1, Jonathan M. Urbach2 & Frederick M. Ausubel2  About the authors


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?

Author affiliations

  1. Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School and Program in Developmental Immunology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.
  2. Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School and Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.

Correspondence to: Frederick M. Ausubel2 Email: