An updated molecular basis for mussel immunity

Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2015 Sep;46(1):17-38. doi: 10.1016/j.fsi.2015.02.013. Epub 2015 Feb 18.


Non-self recognition with the consequent tolerance or immune reaction is a crucial process to succeed as living organisms. At the same time the interactions between host species and their microbiome, including potential pathogens and parasites, significantly contribute to animal life diversity. Marine filter-feeding bivalves, mussels in particular, can survive also in heavily anthropized coastal waters despite being constantly surrounded by microorganisms. Based on the first outline of the Mytilus galloprovincialis immunome dated 2011, the continuously growing transcript data and the recent release of a draft mussel genome, we explored the available sequence data and scientific literature to reinforce our knowledge on the main gene-encoded elements of the mussel immune responses, from the pathogen recognition to its clearance. We carefully investigated molecules specialized in the sensing and targeting of potential aggressors, expected to show greater molecular diversification, and outlined, whenever relevant, the interconnected cascades of the intracellular signal transduction. Aiming to explore the diversity of extracellular, membrane-bound and intracellular pattern recognition receptors in mussel, we updated a highly complex immune system, comprising molecules which are described here in detail for the first time (e.g. NOD-like receptors) or which had only been partially characterized in bivalves (e.g. RIG-like receptors). Overall, our comparative sequence analysis supported the identification of over 70 novel full-length immunity-related transcripts in M. galloprovincialis. Nevertheless, the multiplicity of gene functions relevant to immunity, the involvement of part of them in other vital processes, and also the lack of a refined mussel genome make this work still not-exhaustive and support the development of more specific studies.

Keywords: Bivalves; Innate immunity; Mytilus galloprovincialis; Transcriptome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genome*
  • Mytilus / genetics*
  • Mytilus / immunology*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA