Kalliklectin is a unique fish-specific lectin, whose sequence is similar to the heavy chain of mammalian plasma kallikrein and coagulation factor XI. In this study, we aimed to evaluate dynamic expression profiles of the lectin gene, during early developmental stages, in fugu, Takifugu rubripes. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) showed that the kalliklectin gene was not expressed until 14 h post-fertilization (hpf), while the mRNA was detected after 30 hpf. In real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR), the gene was first expressed at 10.5 hpf; then, the expression level increased with a peak at 30 hpf and then gradually decreased. On the other hand, western blotting with specific antibody detected the lectin protein at all tested stages, including the unfertilized egg, which suggests that the lectin detected in the early stages was a maternal factor. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated that kalliklectin was localized at the basement membranes of the newly hatched larvae, while the lectin was widely detected in epidermal cells in larva at 5 dph. A 40-kDa lectin was partially purified from unfertilized eggs using mannose-affinity chromatography, and the lectin was determined as kalliklectin by liquid chromatography with quadrupole time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry (LC/Q-TOF-MS) analysis, which indicated that the lectin is functional in the eggs. The egg lectin can bind to Gram-positive bacterial pathogens of fish, such as Lactococcus garvieae and Streptococcus iniae. We conclude that fugu kalliklectin might be an important immunocomponent, transferred from mother to offspring.
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