Two hemocyte sub-populations of kuruma shrimpMarsupenaeus japonicus
Hemocytes in the circulating hemolymph play important roles for immune responses in shrimp. Previous studies on immune responses by hemocytes in penaeid shrimp were based on gene expression analyses of the entire population of hemocytes and thus may have missed different immune responses of different hemocyte sub-populations. In this study, we separated hemocytes into two sub-populations by Percoll gradient centrifugation, morphological characteristics of each population were then analyzed by May–Giemsa staining, flow cytometry, and FACSCalibur. Results showed hemocytes were divided into an upper layer basophilic, and lower layer of eosinophilic hemocytes. Basophilic hemocytes were larger in size compared to eosinophilic hemocytes, which were more granulated than the basophilic hemocytes. Transcriptome analysis was then conducted through RNA-seq analysis by Miseq, which revealed 16 differentially-expressed transcripts between the two sub-populations. In the upper-layer, the highly expressed transcripts that were homologous to immune-related genes that suggest hemocytes from this layer may play as the regulator of immune system and control the action of other cells to eliminate pathogen. On the other hand, transcripts that were highly expressed in the lower-layer were homologous to the antimicrobial peptide (AMP) crustin, which supports that hemocytes on this layer have granules as crustins are normally secreted from hemocyte granules. The high expression of crustin in the lower-layer also provides insight on the mechanism of the anti-microbial function, where hemocytes produce and store AMPs in its granules. These differentially expressed genes are potential hemocyte molecular markers, and among them we identified one of the highly expressed genes in the hemocytes from the upper-layer (c11736_g1) to be a promising candidate molecular marker predicted to be a surface molecule, which is a common characteristic for molecular markers.