Identification of cathepsin B in the razor clamSinonovacula constricta and its role in innate immune responses

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Cathepsin B, a lysosomal cysteine protease, has drawn much attention in vertebrates. However, very little is known about the functions of cathepsin B in bivalves. In this study, we identified the cathepsin B gene in the razor clam Sinonovacula constricta. The protein has a typical cysteine protease structure, comprising a 15-residue putative signal peptide, a 75-residue propeptide and a 249-residue mature domain. In the mature domain, there is an occluding loop, an oxyanion hole (Gln) and a catalytic triad (Cys, His and Asn). The cathepsin B gene is expressed in a wide range of tissues but appears to exhibit greatest level of expression in the liver. During the early developmental stages, the transcript could be detected widely. After the clam was infected with Vibrio anguillarum, the expression of the cathepsin B gene showed the most significant up-regulation in the liver and mantle tissues at 8 h after infection. The fact that bacterial infection can induce the expression of the cathepsin B transcript suggests that cathepsin B could play an important role in the innate immunity of clams.

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