Divergent immune roles of two fucolectin isoforms inApostichopus japonicus

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The F-type lectin (fucolectin) family represents a new group with innate immunity. In this study, two fucolectin isoforms (designated as AjFTL-1 and AjFTL-2) were identified in sea cucumber (Apostichopus japonicus) through rapid amplification of cDNA ends. Full-length cDNAs of AjFTL-1 and AjFTL-2 measured 2134 and 1286 bp, encoding two secreted proteins comprising 317 and 181 amino acid residues, respectively. The signal peptide, l-fucose binding motif (“HX(26)RXDX(4)R/K”) and cation binding sequence motif (“h2DGx”) were conserved in AjFTL-1 and AjFTL-2. However, AjFTL-1 contains an additional complement control protein domain. Multiple sequence alignments supported that AjFTL-1 and AjFTL-2 are new members of the F-type lectin family. Tissues distribution analysis indicated that both AjFTL-1 and AjFTL-2 were widely expressed in all tested tissues, featuring differential expression patterns. Vibrio splendidus infection in vivo can significantly upregulate the mRNA transcripts of the two genes, with a larger magnitude observed in AjFTL-1. By contrast, lipopolysaccharide stimulation in vitro can markedly induce the expression level of AjFTL-2 but not that of AjFTL-1. Silencing AjFTL-2 by siRNA can suppress the AjNOS transcript, whereas injection of the recombinant protein of AjFTL-2 can significantly induce AjNOS expression. By contrast, the loss- and gain-of-function of AjFTL-1 caused no effect on the expression of AjNOS. Our present study provides evidence supporting that AjFTL-1 and AjFTL-2 play diverse roles in the innate immune defense of sea cucumbers toward bacterial infection.

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