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A novel p38 MAPK gene in the sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus (Ajp38) is associated with the immune response to pathogenic challenge

Zhan, Yaoyao, Wang, Yi, Li, Kaiquan, Song, Jian, Chang, Yaqing
Fish & shellfish immunology 2018 v.81 pp. 250-259
Apostichopus japonicus, Echinoidea, Vibrio splendidus, adults, amino acids, complementary DNA, data analysis, fish, gene expression, gene expression regulation, genes, immune response, messenger RNA, mitogen-activated protein kinase, open reading frames, phosphorylation, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, rapid amplification of cDNA ends, sequence analysis, shellfish, tissues, transcriptome
The p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), an important component of the MAPK signal cascade, is activated by extracellular stimuli, such as environmental stress and pathogenic infection. To clarify the function of p38 MAPKs in echinoderms, we used transcriptome database mining and rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) to identify a novel p38 MAPK gene in the sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus (here designated Ajp38). The full-length cDNA of Ajp38 was 2231 bp, including an open reading frame encoding 356 amino acid residues. Our sequence analysis indicated that the predicted Ajp38 protein contained the dual phosphorylation site Thr-Gly-Tyr (TGY) and was similar to the p38 homolog in sea urchins. Quantitative real-time PCR analysis showed that Ajp38 was ubiquitously expressed in all examined tissues of healthy adult A. japonicus, with the highest level of expression identified in the coelomocytes. Ajp38 mRNA expression was significantly upregulated in the coelomocytes 4, 12, and 72 h post in vivo infection with Vibrio splendidus. Our results provide more information about the characteristics and immune functions of the p38 homolog in sea cucumbers.