Melanization and Hemocyte Homeostasis  in the Freshwater Crayfish, Pacifastacus leniusculus

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Blood cells or hemocytes play important roles in immunity. They are a major source of many immune-related molecules such as antibodies in adaptive immunity of vertebrates and prophenoloxidase (proPO) in invertebrates. In the crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus, the proPO-system has been reported to be an important component of immune responses against microorganisms. In this study, several mutant strains of Aeromonas hydrophila were used to reveal that LPS (lipopolysaccharide) is an important factor for the pathogenicity of A. hydrophila, strongly inducing the proPO system and melanization. This proPO activating system is a multistep process, which has to be tightly controlled to avoid the harmful side effects of toxic intermediates. Many regulating factors have been reported to fine-tune the proPO-system. In this study, the cleavage of caspase-1-like activity was shown to be a novel negative regulator of PO activity in crayfish. Moreover, the fragments obtained by cleavage of proPO by the proPO-activating enzyme and caspase-1-like protein increased bacterial clearance. Thus, the peptides generated also have important biological functions.In addition to being a source of immune proteins, hemocytes also participate in phagocytosis, encapsulation, and nodulation. An infection normally causes a reduction of hemocyte numbers. Consequently, hemocyte homeostasis is important for maintaining appropriate hemocyte numbers in the circulation of the animal. This study shows that the reactive oxygen species level in the anterior proliferation center of crayfish hematopoietic tissue (HPT), together with cell proliferation, was increased during infection. Pl-?-thymosins were proposed to be involved in hemocyte homeostasis by increasing stem cell migration and thus increasing the circulating hemocyte number. Crayfish hemocyte numbers, as well astakine (Ast1 and Ast2) expression in hemocytes and HPT, were previously shown to be under circadian regulation. Here, we show that Ast1, Ast2, and proPO exhibit rhythmic expression in the crayfish brain similarly to their orthologs, prokineticin 1, prokineticin 2 and tyrosinase, respectively, in the zebrafish brain. Tyrosinase expression was detected in zebrafish brain cells while PO-positive cells were identified as hemocytes that had infiltrated into the crayfish brain. Therefore, this information suggests a close relationship between crayfish hemocytes and the crayfish brain as well as vertebrate neurons.