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Microsporidia Are Natural Intracellular Parasites of the Nematode Caenorhabditis

Summary: Microsporidia Are Natural Intracellular
Parasites of the Nematode Caenorhabditis
Emily R. Troemel1€*
, Marie-Anne FeŽlix2
, Noah K. Whiteman3
, Antoine Barrie`re2
, Frederick M. Ausubel1
1 Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Department of Molecular Biology and Center for Computational and Integrative Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital,
Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America, 2 Institut Jacques Monod, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Universities Paris 6 and 7, Paris, France,
3 Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America
For decades the soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been an important model system for biology, but little is
known about its natural ecology. Recently, C. elegans has become the focus of studies of innate immunity and several
pathogens have been shown to cause lethal intestinal infections in C. elegans. However none of these pathogens has
been shown to invade nematode intestinal cells, and no pathogen has been isolated from wild-caught C. elegans. Here
we describe an intracellular pathogen isolated from wild-caught C. elegans that we show is a new species of
microsporidia. Microsporidia comprise a large class of eukaryotic intracellular parasites that are medically and
agriculturally important, but poorly understood. We show that microsporidian infection of the C. elegans intestine
proceeds through distinct stages and is transmitted horizontally. Disruption of a conserved cytoskeletal structure in
the intestine called the terminal web correlates with the release of microsporidian spores from infected cells, and


Source: Ausubel, Frederick M. - Department of Genetics, Harvard University


Collections: Biology and Medicine