The SKPO-1 Peroxidase Functions in the Hypodermis to Protect Caenorhabditis elegans From Bacterial Infection
George R. Tiller, Danielle A. Garsin


In recent years, the synergistic relationship between NADPH oxidase (NOX)/dual oxidase (DUOX) enzymes and peroxidases has received increased attention. Peroxidases utilize NOX/DUOX-generated H2O2 for a myriad of functions including, but not limited to, thyroid hormone biosynthesis, cross-linking extracellular matrices (ECM), and immune defense. We postulated that one or more peroxidases produced by Caenorhabditis elegans would act in host defense, possibly in conjunction with BLI-3, the only NOX/DUOX enzyme encoded by the genome that is expressed. Animals exposed to RNA interference (RNAi) of the putative peroxidase genes were screened for susceptibility to the human pathogen Enterococcus faecalis. One of three genes identified, skpo-1 (ShkT-containing peroxidase), was studied in depth. Animals mutant for this gene were significantly more susceptible to E. faecalis, but not Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A slight decrease in longevity was also observed. The skpo-1 mutant animals had a dumpy phenotype of incomplete penetrance; half the animals displayed a dumpy phenotype ranging from slight to severe, and half were morphologically wild type. The SKPO-1 protein contains the critical catalytic residues necessary for peroxidase activity, and in a whole animal assay, more H2O2 was detected from the mutant compared to the wild type, consistent with the loss of an H2O2 sink. By using tissue-specific skpo-1 RNAi and immunohistochemical localization with an anti-SKPO-1 antibody, it was determined that the peroxidase is functionally and physically present in the hypodermis. In conclusion, these results characterize a peroxidase that functions protectively in the hypodermis during exposure to E. faecalis.

  • Received December 10, 2013.
  • Accepted March 9, 2014.
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