Transcriptional profiling of immune-related genes in Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) during ontogenesis

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Abstract

We have performed here a gene expression analysis to determine the developmental stage at the main genes involved in crustacean immune response begin to be expressed and their changes in mRNA abundance during shrimp development. By using a quantitative PCR-based approach, we have measured the mRNA abundance of 24 immune-related genes from different functional categories in twelve developmental stages ranging from fertilized eggs to larval and postlarval stages and also in juveniles. We showed for the first time that the main genes from the RNAi-based post-transcriptional pathway involved in shrimp antiviral immunity are transcribed in all developmental stages, but exhibit a diverse pattern of gene expression during shrimp ontogenesis. On the other hand, hemocyte-expressed genes mainly involved in antimicrobial defenses appeared to be transcribed in larval stages, indicating that hematopoiesis initiates early in development. Moreover, transcript levels of some genes were early detected in fertilized eggs at 0–4 h post-spawning, suggesting a maternal contribution of immune-related transcripts to shrimp progeny. Altogether, our results provide important clues regarding the ontogenesis of hemocytes as well the establishment of antiviral and antimicrobial defenses in shrimp.

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