Characterization of two types of vascular endothelial growth factor from Litopenaeus vannamei and their involvements during WSSV infection

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Vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) are important signaling proteins in VEGF signaling pathway which play key roles in inducing endothelial cell proliferation, migration, angiogenesis, vascular permeability, inhibition of apoptosis and virus infection. In the present study, we isolated and characterized two VEGF genes, LvVEGF1 and LvVEGF2 from Litopenaeus vannamei. The deduced amino acid sequences of both LvVEGF1 and LvVEGF2 contained a signal peptide, a typical PDGF/VEGF domain and a cysteine knot motif (CXCXC). Tissue distribution analysis showed that LvVEGF1 was predominantly expressed in lymphoid organ (Oka) while LvVEGF2 was mainly detected in gill and hemocytes. The transcriptional levels of LvVEGF1 in Oka and LvVEGF2 in gill or hemocytes were apparently up-regulated during WSSV infection. Double-stranded RNA interference was used for further functional studies. The data showed that silencing of LvVEGF1 and LvVEGF2 caused a decrease of the copy numbers of the virus in WSSV infected shrimp and a reduction of the cumulative mortality rate of shrimp during WSSV infection. The present study indicated that LvVEGF1 and LvVEGF2 might facilitate WSSV infection, which provided new evidence to understand the function of VEGF signaling pathway during WSSV infection in shrimp.

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