The simple notion ‘infection causes an immune response' is being progressively refined as it becomes clear that immune mechanisms cannot be understood in isolation, but need to be considered in a more global context with other cellular and physiological processes. In part, this reflects the deployment by pathogens of virulence factors that target diverse cellular processes, such as translation or mitochondrial respiration, often with great molecular specificity. It also reflects molecular cross-talk between a broad range of host signalling pathways. Studies with the model animal C. elegans have uncovered a range of examples wherein innate immune responses are intimately connected with different homeostatic mechanisms, and can influence reproduction, ageing and neurodegeneration, as well as various other aspects of its biology. Here we provide a short overview of a number of such connections, highlighting recent discoveries that further the construction of a fully integrated view of innate immunity.
Long Terminal Repeat (LTR) retrotransposons replicate through “copy and paste” mechanisms mediated by reverse transcription in virus-like particles (VLPs) and integration in the nucleus (see article from Lee and Martienssen, pp. 2241–2251). VLP DNA-sequencing reveals complementary DNA (cDNA) replication intermediates from active retrotransposons. Instead of functional linear intermediates that integrate in the nucleus, the Arabidopsis retroelement SISYPHUS lacks features important for nuclear import, and instead accumulates circular cDNA from futile autointegration within the VLP. In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was condemned to the futile task of rolling a huge boulder uphill eternally. Image created and provided Seung Cho Lee, Evan Ernst, and Robert A. Martienssen.
An integrated view of innate immune mechanisms in C. elegans
Benjamin W. Harding, Jonathan J. Ewbank; An integrated view of innate immune mechanisms in C. elegans. Biochem Soc Trans 1 November 2021; 49 (5): 2307–2317. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/BST20210399
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