Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program



Program in Systems Biology

First Thesis Advisor

Marian Walhout, PhD


C. elegans, bacteria, 5-FU, FUDR, tamoxifen citrate, nucleotides, fatty acids, systems biology


The microbes that inhabit the human body, our microbiota, greatly influence our physiology and propensity for disease. For instance, the gut microbiota metabolizes compounds from our diet to provide important nutrients. Similarly, the microbiota has the potential to impact drug response; directly by metabolizing drugs, or indirectly by providing metabolites to the host. The complexity of the mammalian microbiota, and the limited throughput of such models, prohibit a systematic interrogation of specific interactions between microbes and host drug response. Here, I use C. elegans and its bacterial diet as a suitable model with the scalability and genetic tractability to address these questions. In Chapter II, I describe host-bacteria-drug interactions involving the anti-pyrimidine drugs 5-FU and FUDR. In brief, we identified two main mechanisms by which bacteria affect the C. elegans response to anti-pyrimidines: (1) metabolic conversion into FUMP by uridine phospho-ribosyltransferase (upp) and (2) dietary supplementation of uracil. Chapter III will focus on a selective estrogen-receptor modulator, TAM, with no clear target in bacteria or C. elegans. I will describe my work characterizing a bacteria-dependent response to TAM involving fatty acid metabolism. Lastly, the Appendix will summarize my efforts to expand the sample space of tested host-microbe-drug interactions.



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Available for download on Friday, December 31, 2021