Expression of antimicrobial peptides in coelomocytes and embryos of the green sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis)
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) play a crucial role in innate immunity. We have previously reported the isolation and characterization of the AMPs, strongylocins 1 and 2, and centrocin 1, from coelomocyte extracts of Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. Here we show that these AMPs were expressed in phagocytes. In addition, transcripts of strongylocin 1 were detected in vibratile cells and/or colorless spherule cells, while transcripts of strongylocin 2 were found in red spherule cells. Results from immunoblotting and immunocytochemistry studies showed that centrocin 1 was produced by phagocytes and stored in granular vesicles. Co-localization of centrocin 1 and phagocytosed bacteria suggests that the granular vesicles containing centrocin 1 may be involved in the formation of phagolysosomes. We also analyzed the temporal and spatial expression of AMPs throughout larval development. Strongylocins were expressed in the early pluteus stage, while centrocin 1 was expressed in the mid pluteus stage. The spatial expression pattern showed that centrocin 1 was mainly located in blastocoelar cells (BCs) around the stomach and the esophagus. In addition, a few patrolling BCs were detected in some larval arms. Together, these results suggest that AMPs are expressed in different types of coelomocytes and that centrocin 1 is involved in response against bacteria. Furthermore, the expression of AMPs in larval pluteus stage, especially in BCs, indicates that AMPs and BCs are engaged in the larval immune system.