Antimicrobial peptides in crustaceans
Keywords:antimicrobial peptides, innate immunity, crustacean defense, crustaceans, decapods
Crustaceans are a large and diverse invertebrate animal group that mounts a complex and
efficient innate immune response against a variety of microorganisms. The crustacean immune system is primarily related to cellular responses and the production and release of important immune effectors into the hemolymph. Antimicrobial proteins and/or peptides (AMPs) are key components of innate immunity and are widespread in nature, from bacteria to vertebrate animals. In crustaceans, 15 distinct AMP families are currently recognized, although the great majority (14 families) comes from members of the order Decapoda. Crustacean AMPs are generally cationic, gene-encoded molecules that are mainly produced by circulating immune-competent cells (hemocytes) or are derived from unrelated proteins primarily involved in other biological functions. In this review, we tentatively classified the crustacean AMPs into four main groups based on their amino acid composition, structural features and multi-functionality. We also attempted to summarize the current knowledge on their implication both in an efficient response to microbial infections and in crustacean survival.