Identification of potential general markers of disease resistance in American oysters, Crassostrea virginica through gene expression studies

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Several diseases have a significant impact on American oyster populations in the Atlantic coasts of North America. Knowledge about the responses of oysters to pathogenic challenge could help in identifying potential markers of disease resistance and biomarkers of the health status of an oyster population. A previous analysis of the transcriptome of resistant and susceptible American oysters in response to challenge with the bacterial pathogen Roseovarius crassostreae, as well as sequencing of suppression subtractive hybridization libraries from oysters challenged with the protozoan parasite Perkinsus marinus, provided a list of genes potentially involved in disease resistance or susceptibility. We investigated the patterns of inducible gene expression of several of these genes in response to experimental challenge with the oyster pathogens R. crassostreae, Vibrio tubiashii, and P. marinus. Oysters showing differential susceptibility to R. crassostreae demonstrated differential patterns of expression of genes coding for immune (serine protease inhibitor-1, SPI1) and stress-related (heat shock protein 70, HSP70; arginine kinase) proteins 30 days after challenge with this bacterial pathogen. Differential patterns of expression of immune (spi1, galectin and a matrix metalloproteinase) and stress-related (hsp70, histone H4, and arginine kinase) genes was observed in hemocytes from adult oysters challenged with P. marinus, but not with V. tubiashii. While levels of spi1 expression in hemocytes collected 8 and 21 days after P. marinus challenge were negatively correlated with parasite load in oysters tissues at the end of the challenge (62 days), levels of expression of hsp70 in hemocytes collected 1-day after challenge were positively correlated with oyster parasite load at 62 days. Our results confirm previous research on the role of serine protease inhibitor-1 in immunity and disease resistance in oysters. They also suggest that HSP70 and histone H4 could be used as a markers of health status or disease susceptibility in oysters.

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Fish and Shellfish Immunology