Molecular characterization of coral sulfate transporter homolog that is up-regulated by the presence of symbiotic algae


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Reef-building corals are in symbiosis with the dinoflagellates Symbiodinium spp. In our previous study, the expression of two mRNAs (AtSym-01 and 02) was up-regulated by the presence of Symbiodinium cells (strain PL-TS-1) in juveniles of the reef-building coral Acropora tenuis. In this study, the AtSym-01 mRNA was found to encode a cnidarian ortholog of the vertebrate SLC26A11 sulfate transporter. The AtSym-01 and human SLC26A11 proteins exhibited 46% identity over 542 amino acids. Real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis showed that the expression level of the AtSym-01 mRNA was also increased by the presence of Symbiodinium strain CCMP2467 cells. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed using polyclonal antibodies against the AtSym-01 protein, in order to study the distribution of the protein in A. tenuis tissues. Cell-specific immunoreaction was observed in diverse tissues in juvenile and adult specimens. Notable immunoreaction was observed in mucocytes (mucus cells) in the outer epithelium of juveniles, and gastrodermal cells located between the coelenteron and skeleton of the adult colony. These observations suggest the possibility that the AtSym-01 protein is involved in uptake of sulfate ion for synthesis of sulfated macromolecules that are contained in the mucus and organic matrix of the calcified skeleton.