In the horseshoe crab, bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induces exocytosis by granular hemocytes, resulting in the secretion of various defense molecules, such as lectins and antimicrobial peptides, via a G protein-mediating signaling pathway. This response is a key component of the horseshoe crab innate immune response against infectious microorganisms. Here, we report an endogenous amplification mechanism for LPS-induced hemocytes exocytosis. The concentration of LPS required for maximal secretion decreased in proportion to the density of hemocytes, suggesting the presence of a positive feedback mechanism for secretion via a mediator secreted from hemocytes. The exocytosed fluid of hemocytes was found able to induce hemocyte exocytosis in the absence of LPS. Furthermore, tachyplesin, a major antimicrobial peptide of hemocytes, was able to trigger exocytosis in an LPS-independent manner, which was inhibited by a phospholipase C inhibitor, U-73122, and a G protein inhibitor, pertussis toxin. Surface plasmon resonance analysis showed that tachyplesin directly interacts with bovine G protein. These findings suggest that the tachyplesin-induced hemocyte exocytosis also occurs via a G protein-mediating signaling pathway. We concluded that tachyplesin functions not only as an antimicrobial substance, but also as a secondary secretagogue of LPS-induced hemocyte exocytosis, leading to the amplification of the innate immune reaction at sites of injury.
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