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PLoS One. 2014 Mar 11;9(3):e91794. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091794. eCollection 2014.

A galectin from the kuruma shrimp (Marsupenaeus japonicus) functions as an opsonin and promotes bacterial clearance from hemolymph.

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  • 1MOE Key Laboratory of Plant Cell Engineering and Germplasm Innovation/Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Animal Cells and Developmental Biology, School of Life Sciences, Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong, China.
  • 2Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of Maryland Baltimore, and Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.


Galectins are a lectin family characterized by a conserved sequence motif in the carbohydrate recognition domain, which preferential binds to galactosyl moieties. However, few studies about the biological roles of galectins in invertebrates have been reported except for the galectin (CvGal1) from the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica. Furthermore, galectins have been described in only a few crustacean species, and no functional studies have been reported so far. In this study, we identified and functionally characterized a galectin from the kuruma shrimp Marsupenaeus japonicus, which we designated MjGal. Upon Vibrio anguillarum challenge, expression of MjGal was up-regulated mostly in hemocytes and hepatopancreas, and the protein bound to both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria through the recognition of lipoteichoic acid (LTA) or lipopolysaccharide (LPS), respectively. By also binding to the shrimp hemocyte surface, MjGal functions as an opsonin for microbial pathogens, promoting their phagocytosis. Further, as shown by RNA interference, MjGal participates in clearance of bacteria from circulation, and thereby contributes to the shrimp's immune defense against infectious challenge. Elucidation of functional and mechanistic aspects of shrimp immunity will enable the development of novel strategies for intervention in infectious diseases currently affecting the shrimp farming industry worldwide.

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