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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Dec 7;107(49):21087-92. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1011242107. Epub 2010 Nov 17.

Role for a somatically diversified lectin in resistance of an invertebrate to parasite infection.

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Center for Evolutionary and Theoretical Immunology, Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.


Invertebrates lack adaptive immune systems homologous to those of vertebrates, yet it is becoming increasingly clear that they can produce diversified antigen recognition molecules. We have previously noted that the snail Biomphalaria glabrata produces a secreted lectin, fibrinogen-related protein 3 (FREP3), unusual among invertebrate defense molecules because it is somatically diversified by gene conversion and point mutation. Here we implicate FREP3 in playing a central role in resistance to a major group of snail pathogens, digenetic trematodes. FREP3 is up-regulated in three models of resistance of B. glabrata to infection with Schistosoma mansoni or Echinostoma paraensei, and functions as an opsonin favoring phagocytosis by hemocytes. Knock-down of FREP3 in resistant snails using siRNA-mediated interference resulted in increased susceptibility to E. paraensei, providing a direct link between a gastropod immune molecule and resistance to trematodes. FREP3 up-regulation is also associated with heightened responsiveness following priming with attenuated digenetic trematodes (acquired resistance) in this model invertebrate immune system.

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