Molecular cloning, expression, promoter analysis and functional characterization of a new Crustin fromLitopenaeus vannamei

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Abstract

Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are the most important players in the innate immune system, providing a principal first-line of defense against the invading pathogens. Crustin, a type of whey acidic protein (WAP) domain-containing and cationic cysteine-rich AMP, can function in a protease inhibition or an effector molecule manner. In the present study, a new Crustin was cloned and identified from Pacific white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei and designated as LvCrustinA. The full-length cDNA of LvCrustinA was 687 bp, with a 519 bp open reading frame (ORF) that encoded a peptide of 172 amino acids. Domain analysis indicated that LvCrustinA contained a Glycine-rich region in the N-terminal and a single WAP domain within eight cysteines in the C-terminal. The 5′ upstream regulatory sequence of 1249 bp (promoter) was obtained using a genome walking method, and it contained several conserved transcription factors binding motifs including NF-κB, AP-1 and STAT (Signal transducers and activators of transcription). Dual-reporter assay showed that NF-κB transcription factors LvDorsal and LvRelish, and AP-1 transcription factor Lvc-Jun could up-regulate the promoter activity of LvCrustinA, suggesting that NF-κB and JNK-c-Jun pathways could be involved in regulating the expression of LvCrustinA. Moreover, LvCrustinA was abundantly expressed in immune related tissues such as gill, hemocyte and epithelium, and its expression was up-regulated in response to Vibrio parahaemolyticus and White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) challenges in gill tissue, suggesting that LvCrustinA could be involved in the host defense against bacterial and viral infection. Additionally, RNAi mediated knockdown of LvCrustinA resulted in shrimps with the higher cumulative mortality during V. parahaemolyticus and WSSV infection. Taken together, these results provided some insight into the expression and transcriptional regulatory role of LvCrustinA, and its defensive role against pathogenic infection.

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