Allelic variation partially regulates galactose-dependent hydrogen peroxide release from circulating hemocytes of the snailBiomphalaria glabrata

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Freshwater snails are the intermediate hosts for numerous parasitic worms that are detrimental to human and agricultural health. Understanding the immune responses of these snails could be vital for finding ways to block transmission of those parasites. Allelic variation in a recently discovered genomic region in the snail, Biomphalaria glabrata, influences their susceptibility to schistosomes. Here we tested whether genes in that region, termed the Guadeloupe Resistance Complex (GRC), are involved in recognition of common pathogen-associated molecules that have been shown to be stimulants of the hydrogen peroxide defense pathway. We show that hemocytes extracted from individuals with one of the three GRC genotypes released less hydrogen peroxide than the other two genotypes, after stimulation with galactose. This difference was not observed after stimulation with several other microbial-associated carbohydrates, despite those ligands sharing the same putative pathway for hydrogen peroxide release. Therefore, we conclude that allelic variation in the GRC region may influence the recognition of galactose, rather than the conserved downstream steps in the hydrogen peroxide pathway. These results thus are consistent with the hypothesis that proteins produced by this region are involved in pathogen recognition.

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