Hepatocytes are metabolically active cells of the liver that play an important role in the biosynthesis of proteins including α1-antitrypsin. Mutations in the α1-antitrypsin gene can lead to protein misfolding, polymerization/aggregation and retention of protein within the endoplasmic reticulum of hepatocytes. The intracellular accumulation of α1-antitrypsin aggregates can lead to liver disease and increased likelihood of developing hepatocellular carcinomas. Of note, only ∼10% of individuals with α1-antitrypsin-deficiency develop severe liver disease suggesting that there are other genetic and/or environmental factors that determine disease outcome. The nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, is a powerful genetic model organism to study molecular aspects of human disease. In this review, we discuss the functional similarities between the intestinal cells of C. elegans and human hepatocytes and how a C. elegans model of α1-antitrypsin-deficiency can be used as a tool for identifying genetic modifiers and small molecule drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-112
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • C. elegans
  • Hepatocyte
  • Liver disease
  • Protein aggregation
  • α1-Antitrypsin deficiency


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