A new earthworm cellulase and its possible role in the innate immunity

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A new endogenous cellulase (Ean-EG) from the earthworm, Eisenia andrei and its expression pattern are demonstrated. Based on a deduced amino acid sequence, the open reading frame (ORF) of Ean-EG consisted of 1368 bps corresponding to a polypeptide of 456 amino acid residues in which is contained the conserved region specific to GHF9 that has the essential amino acid residues for enzyme activity. In multiple alignments and phylogenetic analysis, the deduced amino acid sequence of Ean- EG showed the highest sequence similarity (about 79%) to that of an annelid (Pheretima hilgendorfi) and could be clustered together with other GHF9 cellulases, indicating that Ean-EG could be categorized as a member of the GHF9 to which most animal cellulases belong. The histological expression pattern of Ean-EG mRNA using in situ hybridization revealed that the most distinct expression was observed in epithelial cells with positive hybridization signal in epidermis, chloragogen tissue cells, coelomic cell-aggregate, and even blood vessel, which could strongly support the fact that at least in the earthworm, Eisenia andrei, cellulase function must not be limited to digestive process but be possibly extended to the innate immunity.

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