A chitinase from pacific white shrimpLitopenaeus vannameiinvolved in immune regulation

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Abstract

Chitinases are a group of hydrolytic enzymes that hydrolyze chitin and widely exist in organisms. Studies in mammals have demonstrated that chitinases play important roles in regulation of humoral and cellular immune responses. In arthropods, although it is well known that chitinases are involved in growth, molting and development, the current knowledge on the role of chitinases in immunity, especially in immune regulation, remains largely unknown. In this study, a chitinase (LvChi5) from Litopenaeus vannamei was representatively selected for studying its immune function. The start codon of LvChi5 was corrected by 5′RACE analysis and its protein sequence was reanalyzed. LvChi5 contains a catalytic domain and a chitin binding domain and shows no inhibitory effect on growth of bacteria in vitro. However, in vivo experiments demonstrated that silencing of LvChi5 increased the mortality of shrimp infected with white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) and Vibro parahaemolyticus and significantly upregulated the load of pathogens in tissues. The expression of various immune related genes, including transcription factors, antimicrobial peptides and other functional proteins with antibacterial and antiviral activities, was widely changed in LvChi5 silencing shrimp. Moreover, the recombinant LvChi5 protein could enhance the phagocytic activity of hemocytes against bacteria. These suggested that shrimp chitinase could play a role in regulation of both humoral and cellular immune responses in shrimp.

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