Oysters are sessile filter feeders that live in close association with abundant and diverse communities of microorganisms that form the oyster microbiota. In such an association, cellular and molecular mechanisms have evolved to maintain oyster homeostasis upon stressful conditions including infection and changing environments. We give here cellular and molecular insights into the Crassostrea gigas antimicrobial defense system with focus on antimicrobial peptides and proteins (AMPs). This review highlights the central role of the hemocytes in the modulation and control of oyster antimicrobial response. As vehicles for AMPs and other antimicrobial effectors, including reactive oxygen species (ROS), and together with epithelia, hemocytes provide the oyster with local defense reactions instead of systemic humoral ones. These reactions are largely based on phagocytosis but also, as recently described, on the extracellular release of antimicrobial histones (ETosis) which is triggered by ROS. Thus, ROS can signal danger and activate cellular responses in the oyster. From the current literature, AMP production/release could serve similar functions. We provide also new lights on the oyster genetic background that underlies a great diversity of AMP sequences but also an extraordinary individual polymorphism of AMP gene expression. We discuss here how this polymorphism could generate new immune functions, new pathogen resistances or support individual adaptation to environmental stresses.
- Antimicrobial peptide