- 2009 onwards: Research scientist, Kiel, Germany
(02/2012-02/2013 and 03/2014-03/2015 maternity leave)
- 2009 PhD degree, Université de la Méditerranée Aix-Marseille II, France.
Dissertation: "Control of antimicrobial peptide expression in the Caenorhabditis elegans epidermis".
- 2005-2009 PhD student at the Centre d'Immunologie de Marseille Luminy, France.
PhD Advisor: Dr. Jonathan Ewbank
- 2003-2005: Research Associate in the Retrovirology Research Laboratory, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA.
Research advisor: Dr. Vivek Nerurkar
- 2003 Diploma degree, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany.
Thesis (conducted at the University of Hawai'i, USA): "Cellular mechanisms underlying JC virus replication".
- 2000-2003 Studies in Parasitology (major), Molecular Biology/Genetics, and Microbiology (minors) at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany.
- 1997-2000 Studies in Biology at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany.
- C. elegans intestinal immunity
"How does an organism (or a cell) react to infection with a pathogen?" This general question has guided my research, since the immune system and its constant, challenging fight with ever changing and evolving pathogens is for me one of the most fascinating topics in biology. Specifically, I am interested in the immune response to infection on the molecular level, and the identification of the molecules and signals that are necessary to fight off the pathogen.
In my work, I use the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism to study intestinal immunity. The work with C. elegans has, amongst others, the big advantage that it is easy to genetically manipulate the worm, e.g. to generate mutants and transgenic animals and to turn off genes using RNAi. Because of these powerful genetic tools available, C. elegans is a highly efficient model for the study of host pathogen interactions. Moreover, several immune-related similarities are found between C. elegans and humans, including immunity signaling cascades and also the morphology and function of intestinal cells, which are the site of most infection in the worm; thus, new findings in C. elegans have potential implications for human immunity and disease.
Similar to all invertebrates, C. elegans solely relies on its innate immune system to defend itself against pathogens. The worm lacks 'professional' immune cells, but possesses inducible epithelial defenses: In addition to forming a physical barrier against invasion of pathogens the intestinal epithelial cells can react to an infection by expressing immune effector molecules, such as antimicrobial peptides, to fight off the pathogen. Previous studies of the worm's intestinal immune system revealed that several highly conserved signaling pathways (e.g. p38 MAPK and insulin signaling) are required for the induction of these immune effector molecules, but it still remains largely unknown how C. elegans perceives infection and how it can differentiate between different pathogens.
In one research project we study the role of a protein family of potential immune receptors and immune effectors in C. elegans immunity, the C-type lectin-like domain containing proteins.
In a second line of research we study how C. elegans responds to infection with the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis.
- Pees B, Kloock A, Nakad R, Barbosa C, Dierking K (2017) Enhanced behavioral immune defenses in a C. elegans C-type lectin-like domain gene mutant. Dev. Comp. Immunol. (Article).
- Zhang F, Berg M, Dierking K, Félix MA, Shapira M, Samuel B, Schulenburg H (2017) Caenorhabditis elegans as a model for microbiome research. Front Microbiol in press.
- Yang W, Dierking K, Rosenstiel PC, Schulenburg H (2016) GATA transcription factor as a likely key regulator of the Caenorhabditis elegans innate immune response against gut pathogens. Zoology 119:244-253.
- Nakad R, Snoek LB, Yang W, Ellendt S, Schneider F, Mohr TG, Rösingh L, Masche AC, Rosenstiel PC, Dierking K, Kammenga JE, Schulenburg H (2016) Contrasting invertebrate immune defense behaviors caused by a single gene, the Caenorhabditis elegans neuropeptide receptor gene npr-1. BMC Genomics in press.
- Dierking K, Yang W, Schulenburg H (2016) Antimicrobial effectors in the nematode C. elegans ¨C an outgroup to the Arthropoda. Phil Trans R Soc Lond B. in press.
- Sheppard AE, Nakad R, Saebelfeld M, Masche AC, Dierking K, Schulenburg H. High instability of a nematicidal Cry toxin plasmid in Bacillus thuringiensis. J. Invert. Path. in press.
- Yang W, Dierking K, Schulenburg H (2015) WormExp: a web-based application for a Caenorhabditis elegans-specific gene expression enrichment analysis. Bioinformatics in press.
- Pees B, Yang W, Zarate-Potes A, Schulenburg H, Dierking K (2015) High innate immune specificity through diversification of C type lectin-like domain proteins in invertebrates. J. Innate Immunity 8:129-142 (Article).
- Yang W*, Dierking K*, Esser D, Tholey A, Leippe M, et al. (2015) Overlapping and unique signatures in the proteomic and transcriptomic responses of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans toward pathogenic Bacillus thuringiensis. Developmental & Comparative Immunology 51: 1-9.
(*joint first authors)
- Hornung C., Poehlein A., Haack F.S., Schmidt M., Dierking K., Pohlen A., Schulenburg H., Blokesch M., Plener L., Jung K., Bonge A., Krohn-Molt I., Utpatel C., Timmermann G., Spieck E., Pommerening-Röser A., Bode E., Bode H. B., Daniel R., Schmeisser C.,Streit W.R. (2013) The Janthinobacterium sp. HH01 genome encodes a homologue of the V. cholerae CqsA and L. pneumophila LqsA autoinducer synthases. PLoS One 8(2):e55045.
- Bijtenhoorn P., Mayerhofer H., Muller-Dieckmann J., Utpatel C., Schipper C., Hornung C., Szesny M., Grond S., Thruner A., Brzuszkiewicz E., Daniel R., Dierking K., Schulenburg H., Streit W.R. (2011) A novel metagenomic short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase attenuates Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm formation and virulence in Caenorhabditis elegans. PLoS One 6(10):e26278.
- Dierking K, Polanowska J, Omi S, Engelmann I, Gut M, Lembo F, Ewbank JJ, Pujol N (2011) Unusual Regulation of a STAT Protein by a SLC6 Family Transporter in Caenorhabditis elegans Epidermal Innate Immunity. Cell Host Microbe 9: 425-435
Previous publications under maiden name (Katja Ziegler)
- Ziegler K, Pujol N (2009) Caenorhabditis elegans defence mechanisms. Médecine sciences 25:497-504.
- Ziegler K, Kurz CL, Cypowyj S, Couillault C, Pophillat M, Pujol N, Ewbank JJ (2009) Antifungal innate immunity in Caenorhabditis elegans: PKCdelta links G protein signaling and a conserved p38 MAPK cascade. Cell Host Microbe 5:341-352
- Pujol N, Cypowyj S, Ziegler K, Millet A, Astrain A, Goncharov A, Jin Y, Chisholm AD, Ewbank JJ (2008) Distinct innate immune responses to infection and wounding in the Caenorhabditis elegans epidermis. Curr. Biol. 18:481-489
- Verma S, Ziegler K, Ananthula P, Co JKG, Frisque RJ, Yanagihara R, Nerurkar VR (2006) JC virus induces altered patterns of cellular gene expression: Interferon-inducible genes as major transcriptional targets. Virology 345:457-467
- Ziegler K, Bui T, Frisque RJ, Grandinetti A, Nerurkar VR (2004) A rapid in-vitro polyomavirus DNA replication assay. J. Virol. Meth. 122:123-127