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PLoS One. 2017 Nov 10;12(11):e0187987. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187987. eCollection 2017.

Lectins identify distinct populations of coelomocytes in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Chang Gung University, Kwei-Shan District, Tao-Yuan, Taiwan.
Division of Microbiology, Graduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Chang Gung University, Kwei-Shan District, Tao-Yuan, Taiwan.
Chang Gung Immunology Consortium, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University, Kwei-Shan District, Tao-Yuan, Taiwan.
Department of General Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Tao-Yuan, Taiwan.


Coelomocytes represent the immune cells of echinoderms, but detailed knowledge about their roles during immune responses is very limited. One major challenge for studying coelomocyte biology is the lack of reagents to identify and purify distinct populations defined by objective molecular markers rather than by morphology-based classifications that are subjective at times. Glycosylation patterns are known to differ significantly between cell types in vertebrates, and furthermore they can vary depending on the developmental stage and activation states within a given lineage. Thus fluorescently labeled lectins that recognize distinct glycan structures on cell surface proteins are routinely used to identify discrete cell populations in the vertebrate immune system. Here we now employed a panel of fifteen fluorescently-labeled lectins to determine differences in the glycosylation features on the surface of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus coelomocytes by fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. Eight of the lectins (succinylated wheat germ agglutinin, Len culinaris lectin, Pisum sativum agglutinin, Saphora japonica agglutinin, Solanum tuberosum lectin, Lycopersicon esculentum lectin, Datura stramonium lectin, Vicia villosa lectin) showed distinct binding patterns to fixed and live cells of three major coelomocyte classes: phagocytic cells, red spherule cells, and vibratile cells. Importantly, almost all lectins bound only to a subgroup of cells within each cell type. Lastly, we established fluorescently-labeled lectin-based fluorescence activated cell sorting as a strategy to purify distinct S. purpuratus coelomocyte (sub-)populations based on molecular markers. We anticipate that this will become a routine approach in future studies focused on dissecting the roles of different coelomocytes in echinoderm immunity.

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