Ioannis Eleftherianos

Ioannis Eleftherianos

Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology
SEH 5675
Phone: 202-994-2367


Lab office: Science & Engineering Hall 5490C 

Areas of Expertise

Insect infection and immunity.

Current Research

We investigate host-pathogen interactions using a model insect (Drosophila), a nematode parasite (Heterorhabditis) and its symbiotic insect-pathogenic bacterium (Photorhabdus). This is a very powerful system with the great advantage that all three players of the interaction can be genetically manipulated. RNA interference in the insect and nematode combined with bacterial genetics can be readily applied to investigate the molecular and evolutionary basis of insect immunity, bacterial symbiosis and nematode parasitism as well as the complex interactions between these biological processes. In addition all three genomes (Drosophila, Heterorhabditis and Photorhabdus) are sequenced, which allows very elegant studies on gene-to-gene-interactions.

Research questions:

  • Which genes the bacteria use to infect and persist in the fly?
  • What immune mechanisms are activated in the fly in response to infection by the nematode and/or the bacteria?
  • How does the nematode cope with the fly immune system?

We use a mix of molecular biology, basic microbiology and parasitology, cellular immunology, insect physiology/biochemistry, Drosophila genetics, insect and microbial genomics as well as immunohistochemistry techniques.


2007 - 2009: Postdoctoral Research Fellow – French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)/Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMC), Unit of Research (UPR) 9022 "Immune Response and Development in Insects", University of Strasbourg - Strasbourg, France.
2003 - 2006: Postdoctoral Research Officer – University of Bath, Department of Biology and Biochemistry - Bath, UK.
2000 – 2002: Ph.D. (Insect Molecular Biology, Insect Physiology and Toxicology) University of Bath, Department of Biology and Biochemistry / Rothamsted Research, Division of Plant and Invertebrate Ecology – UK.
1998 – 1999: M.Sc. (Technology of Plant Protection / Molecular Entomology) University of Reading, Department of Agriculture – Reading, UK.
1993 – 1996: B.Sc. (Applied Biology / Entomology)
Technological Educational Institute (T.E.I.) of Larissa, School of Agricultural Technology, Department of Plant Production – Larissa, Greece.


Full text publications.

Castillo JC, Creasy T, Kumari P, Shetty A, Shokal U, Tallon LJ, Eleftherianos I (2015). Drosophila anti-nematode and antibacterial immune regulators revealed by RNA-Seq. BMC Genomics 16, 519.

Stokes BA, Yadav S, Shokal U, Smith LC, Eleftherianos I (2015). Bacterial and fungal pattern recognition receptors in homologus innate signaling pathways of insects mammals. Frontiers in Microbiology 6, 19.

Eleftherianos I, More K, Spivack S, Paulin E, Khojandi A, Shukla S (2014). Nitric oxide levels regulate the immune response of Drosophila melanogaster reference laboratory strains to bacterial infections. Infection and Immunity 82, 4169-4181.

Bhadra R, Moretto MM, Castillo JC, Petrovas C, Ferrando-Martinez S, Shokal U, Leal M, Koup RA, Eleftherianos I, Khan IA (2014). Intrinsic TGF-β signaling promotes age-dependent CD8+ T cell polyfunctionality attrition. The Journal of Clinical Investigation 124, 2441-2455.

Stoepler TM, Castillo JC, Lill JT, Eleftherianos I (2013). Hemocyte density increases with 
developmental stage in an immune-challenged forest caterpillar. PLoS One 8, e70978.

Eleftherianos I, Atri J, Accetta J, Castillo JC (2013). Endosymbiotic bacteria in insects: guardians of 
the immune system?Frontiers in Physiology 4, 46. 

Stoepler TM, Castillo JC, Lill JT, Eleftherianos I (2012). A simple protocol for extracting hemocytes from wild caterpillars. Journal of Visualized Experiments 15, pii: 4173.

Castillo JC, Shokal U, Eleftherianos I (2012). Immune gene transcription in Drosophila adult flies infected by entomopathogenic nematodes and their mutualistic bacteria. Journal of Insect Physiology [Epub ahead of print].

Eleftherianos I, Castillo JC (2012). Molecular mechanisms of aging and immune system regulation in Drosophila. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 13, 9826-9844.

Castillo JC, Shokal U, Eleftherianos I (2012). A novel method for infecting Drosophila adult flies with insect pathogenic nematodes. Virulence 3 (3).

Castillo JC, Reynolds SE, Eleftherianos I (2011). Insect immune responses to nematode parasites. Trends in Parasitology 27, 537-547.

Eleftherianos I, Schneider S (2011). Drosophila immunity research on the move. Fly 5, 1-8.

Eleftherianos I, Revenis C (2011). Role and importance of phenoloxidase in insect hemostasis. Journal of Innate Immunity 3, 28-33.

Eleftherianos I, ffrench-Constant RH, Clarke DJ, Dowling AJ, Reynolds SE (2010). Dissecting the immune response to the entomopathogen Photorhabdus. Trends in Microbiology 18, 552-560.

Classes Taught

BISC 3209: Molecular Biology
BISC 4171: Undergraduate Research
BISC 6205: Current Topics in Cell and Molecular Biology
BISC 6219: Host-Microbe Interactions
BISC 8998: Advanced Reading and Research