Expression of Putative Immune Response Genes during Early Ontogeny in the Coral Acropora millepora
AuthorPuill-Stephan, E; Seneca, FO; Miller, DJ; van Oppen, MJH; Willis, BL
Source TitlePLoS One
PublisherPUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE
University of Melbourne Author/svan Oppen, Madeleine
AffiliationSchool of BioSciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsPuill-Stephan, E., Seneca, F. O., Miller, D. J., van Oppen, M. J. H. & Willis, B. L. (2012). Expression of Putative Immune Response Genes during Early Ontogeny in the Coral Acropora millepora. PLOS ONE, 7 (7), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039099.
Access StatusOpen Access
BACKGROUND: Corals, like many other marine invertebrates, lack a mature allorecognition system in early life history stages. Indeed, in early ontogeny, when corals acquire and establish associations with various surface microbiota and dinoflagellate endosymbionts, they do not efficiently distinguish between closely and distantly related individuals from the same population. However, very little is known about the molecular components that underpin allorecognition and immunity responses or how they change through early ontogeny in corals. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Patterns in the expression of four putative immune response genes (apextrin, complement C3, and two CELIII type lectin genes) were examined in juvenile colonies of Acropora millepora throughout a six-month post-settlement period using quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). Expression of a CELIII type lectin gene peaked in the fourth month for most of the coral juveniles sampled and was significantly higher at this time than at any other sampling time during the six months following settlement. The timing of this increase in expression levels of putative immune response genes may be linked to allorecognition maturation which occurs around this time in A. millepora. Alternatively, the increase may represent a response to immune challenges, such as would be involved in the recognition of symbionts (such as Symbiodinium spp. or bacteria) during winnowing processes as symbioses are fine-tuned. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Our data, although preliminary, are consistent with the hypothesis that lectins may play an important role in the maturation of allorecognition responses in corals. The co-expression of lectins with apextrin during development of coral juveniles also raises the possibility that these proteins, which are components of innate immunity in other invertebrates, may influence the innate immune systems of corals through a common pathway or system. However, further studies investigating the expression of these genes in alloimmune-challenged corals are needed to further clarify emerging evidence of a complex innate immunity system in corals.
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