TheCiona intestinalisimmune-related galectin genes (CiLgals-aand CiLgals-b) are expressed by the gastric epithelium

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The transcription of two Ciona intestinalis galectin genes (CiLgals-a and CiLgals–b) is uparegulated by LPS in the pharynxis (hemocytes, vessel epithelium, endostilar zones) which is retained the main organ of the immunity. In this ascidian, for the first time we show, by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization methods, that these two immune-related genes are expressed in the gastric epithelium of naïve ascidians, whereas the galectins appear to be only contained in the intestine columnar epithelium. In addition, according to previous results on the pharynx, the genes are also expressed and galectins produced by hemocytes scattered in the connective tissue surrounding the gut. The genes expression and galectin localization in several tissues, including the previous findings on the transcription upregulation, the constitutive expression of these genes by endostylar zones and by the gastric epithelium suggest a potential multifunctional role of these galectins. In this respect, it is of interest to define where the CiLgals are normally found as related to the tissue functions. Such an approach should be a starting point for further investigations.

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