Proteins containing a scavenger receptor cysteine-rich (SRCR) domain (SRCR proteins) play an important role in the innate immune system of various metazoan animals. In the starfish Asterina pectinifera, mesenchyme cells and coelomocytes govern the two distinct innate immune systems of the larvae and adults, respectively. Here we identify a cDNA encoding a protein containing nine SRCR domains termed ApSRCR1, and present characterization of the molecular structure, expression, subcellular localization and function of ApSRCR1 protein during ontogenesis of this animal. ApSRCR1 protein is a membrane-type protein with a predicted molecular mass of approximately 120. kDa. During ontogenesis, ApSRCR1 protein is de novo synthesized and localizes to cytoplasmic vesicles in both mesenchyme cells and coelomocytes without translation of maternal mRNA; however, the net production and modification by N-glycosylation of ApSRCR1 protein differs in each cell type. In both types of cell, functional inhibition of ApSRCR1 protein leads to incompetent bacterial clearance and failure of aggregate formation. However, this inhibitory effect is weaker in the mesenchyme cells than in the coelomocytes. In the bacteria-sensitized adult, ApSRCR1 protein is up-regulated and digested to enable its secretion into the coelomic fluid. This secreted form of ApSRCR1 protein can apparently bind to bacteria. Overall, we show that ApSRCR1 protein is finely regulated for expression not only during development but also in a sensitive innate immunological situation, and thereupon acts as an opsonin for bacteria to different extents in the larvae and adults of A. pectinifera.
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