Several immune-related molecules in penaeid shrimps have been discovered, most of these via the analysis of expressed sequence tag libraries, microarray studies and proteomic approaches. These immune molecules include antimicrobial peptides, serine proteinases and inhibitors, phenoloxidases, oxidative enzymes, clottable protein, pattern recognition proteins, lectins, Toll receptors, and other humoral factors that might participate in the innate immune system of shrimps. These molecules have mainly been found in the hemolymph and hemocytes, which are the main sites where immune reactions take place, while some are found in other immune organs/tissues, such as the lymphoid organs, gills and intestines. Although the participation of some of these immune molecules in the shrimp innate immune defense against invading pathogens has been demonstrated, the functions of many molecules remain unclear. This review summarizes the current status of our knowledge concerning the discovery and functional characterization of the immune molecules in penaeid shrimps.Highlights
★ Current knowledge on the discovery of shrimp immune molecules has been reviewed. ★ The collection of genes from penaeid shrimps identified by high throughput transcriptomic approaches is summarized. ★ The functions of major immune molecules and the immune defense reactions in shrimp are summarized.