Characterization of three caspases and their pathogen-induced expression pattern inPortunus trituberculatus

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Caspases are a family of proteases involved in many important biological processes including apoptosis and inflammation. In this study, we analyzed the expression patterns and effects on immune response in various tissues of the edible crab Portunus trituberculatus. PtCas 2, PtCas 3 and PtCas 4 share overall sequence identities of 55.88%–74.86%, 8.47%–46.54% and 20.11%–50.87%, respectively, with their other crustacean species. PtCas 2, PtCas 3 and PtCas 4 have the same caspase domain and catalytic site found in known caspases. The expression levels of the three caspases differed between tissues. Following bacterial and viral infection, the expression levels of the three caspases reached a maximum level at 24 h post-infection (hpi) in case of bacteria, whereas it was 48 hpi in virus. Moreover, the WSSV, Vibrio alginolyticus or V. parahaemolyticus induced the activities of PtCas 2–4 in a time-dependent manner. These results indicate an involvement of caspases in bacterial and viral induced immune response and demonstrate for the first time that PtCas 2, PtCas 3 and PtCas 4 are essential for optimal response to bacterial and virus infection in crabs.

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