The Microbial Composition of Penaeid Shrimps' Hepatopancreas Is Modulated by Hemocyanin

J Immunol. 2021 Dec 1;207(11):2733-2743. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.2100746. Epub 2021 Oct 20.


Aquatic organisms have to produce proteins or factors that help maintain a stable relationship with microbiota and prevent colonization by pathogenic microorganisms. In crustaceans and other aquatic invertebrates, relatively few of these host factors have been characterized. In this study, we show that the respiratory glycoprotein hemocyanin is a crucial host factor that modulates microbial composition and diversity in the hepatopancreas of penaeid shrimp. Diseased penaeid shrimp (Penaeus vannamei), had an empty gastrointestinal tract with atrophied hepatopancreas, expressed low hemocyanin, and high total bacterial abundance, with Vibrio as the dominant bacteria. Similarly, shrimp depleted of hemocyanin had mitochondrial depolarization, increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, and dysregulation of several energy metabolism-related genes. Hemocyanin silencing together with ROS scavenger (N-acetylcysteine) treatment improved microbial diversity and decreased Vibrio dominance in the hepatopancreas. However, fecal microbiota transplantation after hemocyanin knockdown could not restore the microbial composition in the hepatopancreas. Collectively, our data provide, to our knowledge, new insight into the pivotal role of hemocyanin in modulating microbial composition in penaeid shrimp hepatopancreas via its effect on mitochondrial integrity, energy metabolism, and ROS production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Hemocyanins / immunology
  • Hemocyanins / metabolism*
  • Hepatopancreas / immunology
  • Hepatopancreas / metabolism*
  • Penaeidae / immunology
  • Penaeidae / metabolism
  • Penaeidae / microbiology*


  • Hemocyanins