Antimicrobial histones and DNA traps in invertebrate immunity: evidences in Crassostrea gigas [Cell Biology]

July 17th, 2014 by Poirier, A. C., Schmitt, P., Rosa, R. D., Vanhove, A. S., Kieffer–Jaquinod, S., Rubio, T. P., Charriere, G. M., Destoumieux–Garzon, D.

While antimicrobial histones have been isolated from multiple metazoan species, their role in host defense has long remained unanswered. We found here that the hemocytes of the oyster Crassostrea gigas release antimicrobial H1-like and H5-like histones in response to tissue damage and infection. These antimicrobial histones were shown to be associated to extracellular DNA networks released by hemocytes, the circulating immune cells of invertebrates, in response to immune challenge. The hemocyte-released DNA was found to surround and entangle vibrios. This defense mechanism is reminiscent of the neutrophil Extracellular Traps (ETs) recently described in vertebrates. Importantly, oyster ETs were evidenced in vivo in hemocyte-infiltrated interstitial tissues surrounding wounds while they were absent from tissues of unchallenged oysters. Consistently, antimicrobial histones were found to accumulate in oyster tissues following injury or infection with vibrios. Finally, oyster ET formation was highly dependent on the production of reactive oxygen species by hemocytes. This shows that ET formation relies on common cellular and molecular mechanisms from vertebrates to invertebrates. Altogether, our data reveal that ET formation is a defense mechanism triggered by infection and tissue damage, which is shared by relatively distant species suggesting either evolutionary conservation or convergent evolution within Bilateria.