Gastropod Immunobiology

Chapter Details

Pub Date: 20 Dec 2010
Pages: 27
Chapter Category: Immunology
Taken from the Book: Invertebrate Immunity
Book Series: Special Books
Edited by: Kenneth Söderhäll

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Gastropod Immunobiology

Eric S. Loker

About this Chapter

Over their 500 million year history, gastropods have radiated into marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments and adopted life styles ranging from herbivory to carnivory to endoparasitism to symbiont‑mediated chemoautotrophy. They contend with many pathogens, including several lineages of specialized eukaryotic parasites. Their immunobiology is as yet poorly known, in part because most studies focus on a very small segment of gastropod diversity. Gastropod genome sequences are now forthcoming but synthetic overviews of the gastropod immunome are not yet available. Most immunological studies focus on interactions between gastropods and the larval stages of digenetic trematodes (digeneans) such as the medically important schistosomes. Digeneans elicit demonstrable and relevant snail defense responses and provide insights, augmented by the recently available schistosome genome sequences, for how gastropod responses are subverted. Survival of digeneans in snails depends at least in part on their ability to mimic host glycotopes, to overcome the immediate attack of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species produced by host hemocytes, and to induce long‑term down‑regulation of immune functions. Gastropods can mount distinct responses to different categories of pathogens, and can orchestrate effective elevated secondary responses under certain circumstances. Defense responses of at least one gastropod species, Biomphalaria glabrata, involve hemolymph lectins that are diversified by a variety of processes, including somatic diversification. Such observations have played a role in revising our general concept of invertebrate defense to include the possibility of more sophisticated and diversified responses beyond the production of limited repertoires of invariant pattern recognition molecules. The study of gastropod immunobiology is thus of basic interest and has several applied uses as well, including our need to conserve imperiled gastropod diversity.

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