Newly identified invertebrate-type lysozyme (Splys-i) in mud crab (Scylla paramamosain) exhibiting muramidase-deficient antimicrobial activity
Lysozymes are widely distributed immune effectors exerting muramidase activity against the peptidoglycan of the bacterial cell wall to trigger cell lysis. However, some invertebrate-type (i-type) lysozymes deficient of muramidase activity still exhibit antimicrobial activity. To date, the mechanism underlying the antimicrobial effect of muramidase-deficient i-type lysozymes remains unclear. Accordingly, this study characterized a novel i-type lysozyme, Splys-i, in the mud crab Scylla paramamosain. Splys-i shared the highest identity with the Litopenaeus vannamei i-type lysozyme (Lvlys-i2, 54% identity) at the amino acid level. Alignment analysis and 3D structure comparison show that Splys-i may be a muramidase-deficient i-type lysozyme because it lacks the two conserved catalytic residues (Glu and Asp) that are necessary for muramidase activity. Splys-i is mainly distributed in the intestine, stomach, gills, hepatopancreas, and hemocytes, and it is upregulated by Vibrio harveyi or Staphylococcus aureus challenge. Recombinant Splys-i protein (rSplys-i) can inhibit the growth of Gram-negative bacteria (V. harveyi, Vibrio alginolyticus, Vibrio parahemolyticus, and Escherichia coli), Gram-positive bacteria (S. aureus, Bacillus subtilis, and Bacillus megaterium), and the fungus Candida albicans to varying degrees. In this study, two binding assays and a bacterial agglutination assay were conducted to elucidate the potential antimicrobial mechanisms of Splys-i. Results demonstrated that rSplys-i could bind to all nine aforementioned microorganisms. It also exhibited a strong binding activity to lipopolysaccharide from E. coli and lipoteichoic acid and peptidoglycan (PGN) from S. aureus but a weak binding activity to PGN from B. subtilis and β-glucan from fungi. Moreover, rSplys-i could agglutinate these nine types of microorganisms in the presence of Ca2+ at different protein concentrations. These results suggest that the binding activity and its triggered agglutinating activity might be two major mechanisms of action to realize the muramidase-deficient antibacterial activity. In addition, rSplys-i can hydrolyze the peptidoglycan of some Gram-positive bacteria because it exhibits weak isopeptidase activities in salt and protein concentration-dependent manner. This result indicates that such an isopeptidase activity may contribute to the muramidase-deficient antimicrobial activity to a certain degree. In conclusion, Splys-i is upregulated by pathogenic bacteria, and it inhibits bacterial growth by binding and agglutination activities as well as isopeptidase activity, suggesting that Splys-i is involved in immune defense against bacteria through several different mechanisms of action.