Note to users. If you're seeing this message, it means that your browser cannot find this page's style/presentation instructions -- or possibly that you are using a browser that does not support current Web standards. Find out more about why this message is appearing, and what you can do to make your experience of our site the best it can be.


Logo for

Science 314 (5801): 952-956

Copyright © 2006 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Genomic Insights into the Immune System of the Sea Urchin

Jonathan P. Rast,1* L. Courtney Smith,2 Mariano Loza-Coll,1 Taku Hibino,1 Gary W. Litman3,4

Abstract: Comparative analysis of the sea urchin genome has broad implications for the primitive state of deuterostome host defense and the genetic underpinnings of immunity in vertebrates. The sea urchin has an unprecedented complexity of innate immune recognition receptors relative to other animal species yet characterized. These receptor genes include a vast repertoire of 222 Toll-like receptors, a superfamily of more than 200 NACHT domain–leucine-rich repeat proteins (similar to nucleotide-binding and oligomerization domain (NOD) and NALP proteins of vertebrates), and a large family of scavenger receptor cysteine-rich proteins. More typical numbers of genes encode other immune recognition factors. Homologs of important immune and hematopoietic regulators, many of which have previously been identified only from chordates, as well as genes that are critical in adaptive immunity of jawed vertebrates, also are present. The findings serve to underscore the dynamic utilization of receptors and the complexity of immune recognition that may be basal for deuterostomes and predicts features of the ancestral bilaterian form.

1 Sunnybrook Research Institute and Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Room S-126B, Toronto, Ontario M4N 3M5, Canada.
2 Department of Biological Sciences, George Washington University, 2023 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052, USA.
3 Department of Pediatrics, University of South Florida (USF) College of Medicine, USF/ACH (All Children's Hospital) Children's Research Institute, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA.
4 H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jrast{at}

The Sp185/333 immune response genes and proteins are expressed incells dispersed within all major organs of the adult purple sea urchin.
A. J. Majeske, T. K. Oleksyk, and L. C. Smith (2013)
Innate Immunity 19, 569-587
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Critical Role of Cortical Vesicles in Dissecting Regulated Exocytosis: Overview of Insights Into Fundamental Molecular Mechanisms.
P. S. Abbineni, J. E. Hibbert, and J. R. Coorssen (2013)
Biol. Bull. 224, 200-217
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Hypotheses on the evolution of hyaluronan: A highly ironic acid.
A. B. Csoka and R. Stern (2013)
Glycobiology 23, 398-411
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Gene structure in the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus based on transcriptome analysis.
Q. Tu, R. A. Cameron, K. C. Worley, R. A. Gibbs, and E. H. Davidson (2012)
Genome Res. 22, 2079-2087
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Mice, men and the relatives: cross-species studies underpin innate immunity.
C. E. Bryant and T. P. Monie (2012)
Open Bio 2, 120015
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
The amphioxus genome provides unique insight into the evolution of immunity.
L. J. Dishaw, R. N. Haire, and G. W. Litman (2012)
Briefings in Functional Genomics
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Functional Characterization of a Ficolin-mediated Complement Pathway in Amphioxus.
H. Huang, S. Huang, Y. Yu, S. Yuan, R. Li, X. Wang, H. Zhao, Y. Yu, J. Li, M. Yang, et al. (2011)
J. Biol. Chem. 286, 36739-36748
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Defining the Origins of the NOD-Like Receptor System at the Base of Animal Evolution.
C. Lange, G. Hemmrich, U. C. Klostermeier, J. A. Lopez-Quintero, D. J. Miller, T. Rahn, Y. Weiss, T. C. G. Bosch, and P. Rosenstiel (2011)
Mol. Biol. Evol. 28, 1687-1702
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
The Evolution and Regulation of the Mucosal Immune Complexity in the Basal Chordate Amphioxus.
S. Huang, X. Wang, Q. Yan, L. Guo, S. Yuan, G. Huang, H. Huang, J. Li, M. Dong, S. Chen, et al. (2011)
J. Immunol. 186, 2042-2055
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Role for a somatically diversified lectin in resistance of an invertebrate to parasite infection.
P. C. Hanington, M. A. Forys, J. W. Dragoo, S.-M. Zhang, C. M. Adema, and E. S. Loker (2010)
PNAS 107, 21087-21092
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Caspase Recruitment Domain-containing Protein 8 (CARD8) Negatively Regulates NOD2-mediated Signaling.
O. von Kampen, S. Lipinski, A. Till, S. J. Martin, W. Nietfeld, H. Lehrach, S. Schreiber, and P. Rosenstiel (2010)
J. Biol. Chem. 285, 19921-19926
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Diversification of innate immune genes: lessons from the purple sea urchin.
L. C. Smith (2010)
Dis. Model. Mech. 3, 274-279
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Highly Variable Immune-Response Proteins (185/333) from the Sea Urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus: Proteomic Analysis Identifies Diversity within and between Individuals.
N. M. Dheilly, S. V. Nair, L. C. Smith, and D. A. Raftos (2009)
J. Immunol. 182, 2203-2212
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Differential Binding of Inorganic Particles to MARCO.
S. A. Thakur, R. Hamilton Jr, T. Pikkarainen, and A. Holian (2009)
Toxicol. Sci. 107, 238-246
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Sequence Variations in 185/333 Messages from the Purple Sea Urchin Suggest Posttranscriptional Modifications to Increase Immune Diversity.
K. M. Buckley, D. P. Terwilliger, and L. C. Smith (2008)
J. Immunol. 181, 8585-8594
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
The amphioxus genome illuminates vertebrate origins and cephalochordate biology.
L. Z. Holland, R. Albalat, K. Azumi, E. Benito-Gutierrez, M. J. Blow, M. Bronner-Fraser, F. Brunet, T. Butts, S. Candiani, L. J. Dishaw, et al. (2008)
Genome Res. 18, 1100-1111
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Genomic analysis of the immune gene repertoire of amphioxus reveals extraordinary innate complexity and diversity.
S. Huang, S. Yuan, L. Guo, Y. Yu, J. Li, T. Wu, T. Liu, M. Yang, K. Wu, H. Liu, et al. (2008)
Genome Res. 18, 1112-1126
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
The Sea Urchin Genome as a Window on Function.
S. C. Materna and R. A. Cameron (2008)
Biol. Bull. 214, 266-273
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Marine Invertebrate Genome Sequences and Our Evolving Understanding of Animal Immunity.
J. P. Rast and C. Messier-Solek (2008)
Biol. Bull. 214, 274-283
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Genome Analysis of the Unicellular Green Alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii Indicates an Ancient Evolutionary Origin for Key Pattern Recognition and Cell-Signaling Protein Families.
G. L. Wheeler, D. Miranda-Saavedra, and G. J. Barton (2008)
Genetics 179, 193-197
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Invertebrate Immune Systems-Specific, Quasi-Specific, or Nonspecific?.
A. F. Rowley and A. Powell (2007)
J. Immunol. 179, 7209-7214
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Molecular and Biological Characterization of a Mannan-Binding Lectin from the Holothurian Apostichopus Japonicus.
A. A Bulgakov, M. G Eliseikina, I. Y. Petrova, E. L Nazarenko, S. N Kovalchuk, V. B Kozhemyako, and V. A Rasskazov (2007)
Glycobiology 17, 1284-1298
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
The Troll in Toll: Mal and Tram as bridges for TLR2 and TLR4 signaling.
F. J. Sheedy and L. A. J. O'Neill (2007)
J. Leukoc. Biol. 82, 196-203
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Early Diversification of the TNF Superfamily in Teleosts: Genomic Characterization and Expression Analysis.
G. W. Glenney and G. D. Wiens (2007)
J. Immunol. 178, 7955-7973
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Crystal Structure of the Cysteine-rich Domain of Scavenger Receptor MARCO Reveals the Presence of a Basic and an Acidic Cluster That Both Contribute to Ligand Recognition.
J. R. M. Ojala, T. Pikkarainen, A. Tuuttila, T. Sandalova, and K. Tryggvason (2007)
J. Biol. Chem. 282, 16654-16666
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
The Genome of the Sea Urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus.
Sea Urchin Genome Sequencing Consortium, E. Sodergren, G. M. Weinstock, E. H Davidson, R. A. Cameron, R. A. Gibbs, R. C. Angerer, L. M. Angerer, M. I. Arnone, D. R. Burgess, et al. (2006)
Science 314, 941-952
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »

To Advertise     Find Products

Science Signaling. ISSN 1937-9145 (online), 1945-0877 (print). Pre-2008: Science's STKE. ISSN 1525-8882