Comparative tissue expression of American lobster (Homarus americanus) immune genes during bacterial and scuticociliate challenge

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The American lobster (Homarus americanus) fishery is the most economically significant fishery in Canada; although comparatively little is known about the lobsters' response to pathogenic challenge. This is the first study to investigate the expression of immune genes in tissues outside of the lobster hepatopancreas in response to challenges by the Gram-positive bacteria, Aerococcus viridans var. homari or the scuticociliate parasite, Anophryoides haemophila. The hepatopancreas has been regarded as the major humoral immune organ in crustaceans, but the contribution of other organs and tissues to the molecular immune response has largely been overlooked. This study used RT-qPCR to monitor the gene expression of several immune genes including three anti-lipopolysaccharide isoforms (ALF) Homame ALF-B1, Homame ALF-C1 and ALFHa-1, acute phase serum amyloid protein A (SAA), as well as thioredoxin and hexokinase, in antennal gland and gill tissues. Our findings indicate that the gene expression of the SAA and all ALF isoforms in the antennal gland and gill tissues increased in response to pathogenic challenge. However, there was differential expression of individual ALF isoforms that were dependent on both the tissue, and the pathogen used in the challenge. The gene expression changes of several immune genes were found to be higher in the antennal gland than have been previously reported for the hepatopancreas. This study demonstrates that increased immune gene expression from the gill and antennal gland over the course of pathogen induced disease contributes to the immune response of H. americanus.

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