Molecular characterization and protein localization of the antimicrobial peptide big defensin from the scallopArgopecten purpuratusafterVibrio splendiduschallenge

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Abstract

Big defensins are antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) that are proposed as important effectors of the immune response in mollusks, chelicerates and chordates. At present, only two members of the big defensin family have been identified in scallop. In the present work, a cDNA sequence encoding a new big defensin homologue was characterized from the scallop Argopecten purpuratus, namely ApBD1. ApBD1 cDNA sequence comprised 585 nucleotides, with an open reading frame of 375 bp and 5’- and 3′-UTRs of 41 and 167 bp, respectively. The deduced protein sequence contains 124 amino acids with a molecular weight of 13.5 kDa, showing characteristic motifs of the big defensin family and presenting 76% identity with the big defensin from the scallop A. irradians. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that ApBD1 is included into the cluster of big defensins from mollusks. Tissue-specific transcript expression analysis by RT-qPCR showed that ApBD1 was present in all tissues tested from non-immune challenged scallops but it was most strongly expressed in the mantle. The transcript levels of ApBD1 were significantly up-regulated in gills at 24 and 48 h post-injection with the heat-attenuated bacteria Vibrio splendidus. Additionally, immunofluorescence analysis using a polyclonal anti-ApBD1 antibody showed that this protein was abundantly located in epithelial linings of gills and mantle; and also in digestive gland showing ApBD1-infiltrating hemocytes from immune challenged scallops. This is the first time that a big defensin is detected and located at the protein level in a mollusk. These results suggest an important role of ApBD1 in the mucosal immune response of A. purpuratus.

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