Immulectin-2, a pattern recognition receptor that stimulates hemocyte encapsulation and melanization in the tobacco hornworm,Manduca sexta

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In insects, encapsulation followed by melanization is a major defense mechanism against metazoan parasites. However, insects must recognize and differentiate nonself before they mount an immune response. Recognition of pathogens in insects is accomplished by a set of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). Binding of PRRs to pathogens is linked to a variety of immune responses including phagocytosis, nodule formation, encapsulation, and prophenoloxidase activation. So far, little is known about how recognition of pathogens by PRRs triggers different immune responses. In this article, we report that immulectin-2, a C-type lectin, enhances encapsulation and melanization processes in the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. Coating of agarose beads with recombinant carboxyl-terminal carbohydrate-recognition domain (CRD2-II) of immulectin-2 enhanced encapsulation of the beads in vitro by hemocytes and melanization of the beads in vivo in M. sexta larvae. Recombinant CRD2-II also directly bound to granular cells and oenocytoids, but not to plasmatocytes or spherule cells. Immulectin-2 in hemolymph of M. sexta larvae bound to the surface of a nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, and recombinant CRD2-II directly bound to C. elegans and a human filarial nematode, Brugia malayi. Binding of CRD2-II to C. elegans enhanced melanization of the nematode in vivo. Our results suggest that binding of immulectin-2 to the surface of parasites can trigger encapsulation and melanization responses in M. sexta.

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