The members of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) family are involved in the regulation of diverse cellular processes, including apoptosis, signal transduction and mitosis. Here, we report the cloning and characterization of three IAP genes from Pacific white shrimp . Litopenaeus vannamei: . LvIAP1, . LvIAP2 and . LvSurvivin. LvIAP1, the orthologue of . Penaeus monodon IAP (PmIAP), consists of three BIR domains and one RING domain; LvIAP2 consists of two BIR domains and LvSurvivin has only one BIR domain. Expression profiling by absolute quantitative real-time RT-PCR revealed that of the three IAP genes, . LvIAP1 had the highest expression levels in almost all examined tissues and . LvSurvivin had the lowest expression levels. Furthermore, among the examined tissues, the lymphoid organs most strongly expressed all three genes. When . LvIAP1 expression was silenced by injection of its corresponding dsRNA, the shrimp died within 48. h after injection, whereas injection of the other two dsRNAs did not cause shrimp death. In . LvIAP1-silenced shrimp, the number of circulating haemocytes decreased dramatically because of extensive apoptosis. This suggested that . LvIAP1 is central to the regulation of shrimp haemocyte apoptosis.
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