UMMS Affiliation

Program in Innate Immunity, Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Bacteria | Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Immunity | Immunopathology | Lipids | Microbiology


Fatty acids affect a number of physiological processes, in addition to forming the building blocks of membranes and body fat stores. In this study, we uncover a role for the monounsaturated fatty acid oleate in the innate immune response of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. From an RNAi screen for regulators of innate immune defense genes, we identified the two stearoyl-coenzyme A desaturases that synthesize oleate in C. elegans. We show that the synthesis of oleate is necessary for the pathogen-mediated induction of immune defense genes. Accordingly, C. elegans deficient in oleate production are hypersusceptible to infection with diverse human pathogens, which can be rescued by the addition of exogenous oleate. However, oleate is not sufficient to drive protective immune activation. Together, these data add to the known health-promoting effects of monounsaturated fatty acids, and suggest an ancient link between nutrient stores, metabolism, and host susceptibility to bacterial infection.


Oleates, Caenorhabditis elegans, Fatty acids, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Immune activation, Bacterial pathogens, RNA interference, Immune response

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Copyright: © 2019 Anderson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

DOI of Published Version



PLoS Pathog. 2019 Jun 17;15(6):e1007893. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007893. eCollection 2019 Jun. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

PLoS pathogens

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PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.