Still Enigmatic: Innate Immunity in the Ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi

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7 Scopus citations


Innate immunity is an ancient physiological response critical for protecting metazoans from invading pathogens. It is the primary pathogen defense mechanism among invertebrates. While innate immunity has been studied extensively in diverse invertebrate taxa, including mollusks, crustaceans, and cnidarians, this system has not been well characterized in ctenophores. The ctenophores comprise an exclusively marine, non-bilaterian lineage that diverged early during metazoan diversification. The phylogenetic position of ctenophore lineage suggests that characterization of the ctenophore innate immune system will reveal important features associated with the early evolution of the metazoan innate immune system. Here, we review current understanding of the ctenophore immune repertoire and identify innate immunity genes recovered from three ctenophore species. We also isolate and characterize Mnemiopsis leidyi cells that display macrophage-like behavior when challenged with bacteria. Our results indicate that ctenophores possess cells capable of phagocytosing microbes and that two distantly related ctenophores, M. leidyi and Hormiphora californiensis, possess many candidate innate immunity proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-818
Number of pages8
JournalIntegrative and comparative biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Plant Science


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