Given the multitude of nematode associations with invertebrate and mammalian hosts, the beetle-associated P. pacificus represents a much needed knowledge bridge between the free-living nematode C. elegans and human filarial nematodes such as Brugia malayi and Wucheria bancrofti. Our long-term focus is to understand the specific developmental and neurophysiological factors mediating Pristionchus attraction to beetle compounds, using a combination of molecular and genetic approaches. Knowledge of the molecular physiology of insect pheromone attraction will have a direct impact on our understanding of olfaction in nematodes, which can ultimately translate into improving treatments against parasitic nematodes that afflict an estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide.
Our current molecular target is the Oriental Beetle pheromone Insensitive protein (OBI-1), which contains lipid binding domains and is required for both sensing the oriental pheromone z-7-tetradece-2-one (ZTDO), as well as protecting the P. pacificus larvae against the paralyzing effects of ZTDO.
This research is funded by:
The National Institutes of Health, NIGMS, Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Continuance Award ( SC3) to R.L.H (SC3GM105579)
The National Institutes of Health, NIGMS, Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Continuance Award ( SC2) to R.L.H (SC2GM089602)
CSU President’s Commission Scholarship to J. Escobedo
Undergraduate Research Utilizing Confocal Microscopy Research Award (The Keck Foundation) to J. Go.