The immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif (ITAM) plays an important role in signal transduction through antigen receptors in mammalian lymphocytes. We previously reported that an ITAM-containing receptor, ascidian hemocyte ITAM-containing receptor 1 (AhITAMR1), exists on the hemocyte surfaces of the ascidian Halocynthia roretzi, and is involved in both phagocytosis and hemocyte aggregation. In this study, we carried out differential display screening of upregulated genes during H. roretzi hemocyte aggregation and found that at least three genes are upregulated. One encodes glutathione S-transferase ω (GSTω), while the other two encode novel proteins. The expression of all three genes was induced by treatment with a specific monoclonal antibody against AhITAMR1, while their expression was inhibited by wortmannin, BAPTA-AM, and cyclosporin A. We also found that the expression of GSTω was induced by treatment with anti-T cell receptor antibody in mouse peripheral T cells. We propose that signal transduction pathways mediated by ITAM-containing receptors are conserved from ascidian hemocytes to mammalian T cells.
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