Background: Viral and bacterial diseases can cause mass mortalities in commercial shrimp aquaculture. In contrast to studies on the antiviral response, the responses of shrimps to bacterial infections by high throughput techniques have been reported only at the transcriptional level and not at the translational level. In this study, a proteomic analysis of shrimp hemocytes to identify differentially expressed proteins in response to a luminous bacterium Vibrio harveyi was evaluated for its feasibility and is reported for the first time.Results: The two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) patterns of the hemocyte proteins from the unchallenged and V. harveyi challenged shrimp, Penaeus monodon, at 24 and 48 h post infection were compared. From this, 27 differentially expressed protein spots, and a further 12 weakly to non-differentially regulated control spots, were selected for further analyses by the LC-ESI-MS/MS. The 21 differentially expressed proteins that could be identified by homologous annotation were comprised of proteins that are directly involved in the host defense responses, such as hemocyanin, prophenoloxidase, serine proteinase-like protein, heat shock protein 90 and alpha-2-macroglobulin, and those involved in signal transduction, such as the14-3-3 protein epsilon and calmodulin. Western blot analysis confirmed the up-regulation of hemocyanin expression upon bacterial infection. The expression of the selected proteins which were the representatives of the down-regulated proteins (the 14-3-3 protein epsilon and alpha-2-macroglobulin) and of the up-regulated proteins (hemocyanin) was further assessed at the transcription level using real-time RT-PCR.Conclusions: This work suggests the usefulness of a proteomic approach to the study of shrimp immunity and revealed hemocyte proteins whose expression were up regulated upon V. harveyi infection such as hemocyanin, arginine kinase and down regulated such as alpha-2-macroglobulin, calmodulin and 14-3-3 protein epsilon. The information is useful for understanding the immune system of shrimp against pathogenic bacteria.
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