For almost four decades, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been of great value in many fields of biological research. It is now used extensively in studies of microbial pathogenesis and innate immunity. The worm lacks an adaptive immune system and relies solely on its innate immune defences to cope with pathogen attack. Infectious microbes, many of which are of clinical interest, trigger specific mechanisms of innate immunity, and provoke the expression of antifungal or antibacterial polypeptides. In this review, we highlight some of these families of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and proteins that are candidates for the development of novel antibiotics. In addition, we describe how systems of C. elegans infection provide an increasing number of possibilities for large-scale in vivo screens for the discovery of new antimicrobial drugs. These systems open promising perspectives for innovative human therapies.
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