In the ovary ofCiona intestinalis(Type A), immune-related galectin and phenoloxidase genes are differentially expressed by the follicle accessory cells

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Riboprobes (in situ hybridization) and antibodies (immunohistochemistry), previously used to show the upregulation of Ciona intestinalis (Type A) galectins (CiLgals-a, CiLgals-b) and phenoloxidase (CinPO2) immune-related genes, were tested on histological sections of the ovary. The ovarian follicles are composed of oocytes encased by follicular cells (FCs) and test cells (TCs). Results show the transcription upregulation of both CiLgals and CinPO2 genes in the vitellogenic FCs, conversely distinct cytolocalization of the proteins are shown. At vitellogenic stage, the CiLgals are localized in the FCs, in the oocyte cytoplasm, and close to the germinal vesicle (GV), whereas the CinPO2 was never identified in the FCs. In a presumptive advanced phase and at the post-vitellogenic stage the TCs appear to be labelled by the CinPO2 riboprobe, and the protein identified by the antibody suggesting an mRNA transcytosis process from FCs. At post-vitellogenic stage the CiLgals mainly enrich the GV nucleoplasm, whereas the CinPO2 is contained in TCs and in the ooplasm but never found in the GV. This finding sheds new light on a former paper in which TCs were reported to be the only CinPO2-producing cells in the ovarian follicle. Finally, CiLgals and CinPO2 genes transcription and proteins production seem to be associated with accessory cells during their differentiation from vitellogenic to post-vitellogenic stage. The present findings promote further research on the early upregulation of immune-related genes, and the potential multifunctional role of the produced proteins. In addition further insight on the accessory cells involvement in ascidian oogenesis are reported.

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