GATA transcription factors play important roles in directing developmental genetic programs and cell differentiation, and are conserved in animals, plants and fungi. C. elegans has 11 GATA-type transcription factors that orchestrate development of the gut, epidermis and vulva. However, the expression of certain GATA proteins persists into adulthood, where their function is less understood. Accumulating evidence demonstrates contributions of 2 terminal differentiation GATA transcription factors, ELT-2 and ELT-3, to epithelial immune responses in the adult intestine and epidermis (hypodermis), respectively. Involvement in other stress responses has also been documented. We recently showed that ELT-2 acted as a tissue-specific master regulator, cooperating with 2 transcription factors activated by the p38
pathway, ATF-7 and SKN-1, to control immune responses in the adult C. elegans intestine. Here, we discuss the broader implications of these findings for understanding the involvement of GATA transcription factors in adult stress responses, and draw parallels between ELT-2 and ELT-3 to speculate that the latter may fulfill similar tissue-specific functions in the epidermis.