College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
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Elizabeth D. Eldon

Associate Professor

Office: MLSC 204

Office Phone: 562-985-4205

Lab: MLSC 209



Research Interests: Molecular Genetics of Development and Immunity in Drosophila.

Current Research: My lab is interested in the role cell surface receptor proteins play in mediating the intercellular interactions that are critical for development and immunity. My current work focuses on the 18-wheeler gene in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. While the gene is named for its expression pattern of 18 stripes during embryogenesis, it is also expressed in the larval tissues that respond to microbial infection. The 18-Wheeler protein is a member of the growing class of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) found in vertebrates and invertebrates. Its features include an extracellular domain likely to interact with a peptide ligand or other protein, a single membrane-spanning domain, and a cytoplasmic domain with sequence similarity to the cytoplasmic domains of the interleukin-1 receptor (IL-1R) and Toll (TIR domain). We have demonstrated that 18-wheeler is required both maternally and zygotically for normal embryogenesis.

During larval life it is required for humoral and cellular immune responses. Its role in immunity may be the more ancient function evolutionarily.

We are interested in answering several related questions about 18-Wheeler signaling: what are the pathways through which 18-Wheeler signals? are the same signaling intermediates employed in development and immunity? what are the ligands that activate 18-Wheeler signaling? To answer these questions we have both gain- and loss-of-function alleles of 18-wheeler and a variety of antibodies and molecular probes to analyze 18-wheeler function at the genetic, molecular and cellular levels. The critical roles of TLRs being discovered in mammalian innate immunity suggest that our results will have broad implications for understanding critical signaling pathways not only in Drosophila development but also in immune regulation.

Selected Publications:

Kleve CD, Siler DA, Syed SK, Eldon ED. 2006. Expression of 18-wheeler in the follicle cell epithelium affects cell migration and egg morphology in Drosophila. Dev Dyn 235:1953-1961.

Dushay, M.S., J.B. Roethele, J.M. Chaverri, D.E. Dulek, S.K. Syed, T. Kitami and E.D. Eldon. 2000. Two attacin antibacterial genes of Drosophila melanogaster. Gene 246: 49-57.

Dushay, M.S. and Eldon, E.D. 1998. Drosophila immune responses as models for human immunity. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 62: 10-14.

Williams, M.J., Rodriguez, A., Kimbrell, D.A. and Eldon, E.D. 1997. The 18-wheeler mutation reveals complex antibacterial gene regulation in Drosophila host defense. EMBO J. 16 (20): 6120-6130.

Eldon, E., Kooyer, S., D'Evelyn, D., Duman, M., Lawinger, P., Botas, J., and Bellen, H. 1994. The Drosophila 18-wheeler gene is required for morphogenesis and has striking similarities to Toll. Development 120: 885-899.