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Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science


Background: Apoptosis plays important roles in a variety of functions, including immunity and response to environmental stress. The Inhibitor of Apoptosis (IAP) gene family of apoptosis regulators is expanded in molluscs, including eastern, Crassostrea virginica, and Pacific, Crassostrea gigas, oysters. The functional importance of IAP expansion in apoptosis and immunity in oysters remains unknown.

Results: Phylogenetic analysis of IAP genes in 10 molluscs identified lineage specific gene expansion in bivalve species. Greater IAP gene family expansion was observed in C. virginica than C. gigas (69 vs. 40), resulting mainly from tandem duplications. Functional domain analysis of oyster IAP proteins revealed 3 novel Baculoviral IAP Repeat (BIR) domain types and 14 domain architecture types across gene clusters, 4 of which are not present in model organisms. Phylogenetic analysis of bivalve IAPs suggests a complex history of domain loss and gain. Most IAP genes in oysters (76% of C. virginica and 82% of C. gigas), representing all domain architecture types, were expressed in response to immune challenge (Ostreid Herpesvirus OsHV-1, bacterial probionts Phaeobacter inhibens and Bacillus pumilus, several Vibrio spp., pathogenic Aliiroseovarius crassostreae, and protozoan parasite Perkinsus marinus). Patterns of IAP and apoptosis-related differential gene expression differed between the two oyster species, where C. virginica, in general, differentially expressed a unique set of IAP genes in each challenge, while C. gigas differentially expressed an overlapping set of IAP genes across challenges. Apoptosis gene expression patterns clustered mainly by resistance/susceptibility of the oyster host to immune challenge. Weighted Gene Correlation Network Analysis (WGCNA) revealed unique combinations of transcripts for 1 to 12 IAP domain architecture types, including novel types, were significantly co-expressed in response to immune challenge with transcripts in apoptosis-related pathways.

Conclusions: Unprecedented diversity characterized by novel BIR domains and protein domain architectures was observed in oyster IAPs. Complex patterns of gene expression of novel and conserved IAPs in response to a variety of ecologically-relevant immune challenges, combined with evidence of direct co-expression of IAP genes with apoptosis-related transcripts, suggests IAP expansion facilitates complex and nuanced regulation of apoptosis and other immune responses in oysters.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

BMC Genomics



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.