Saprolegnia parasitica is a freshwater oomycete that is capable of infecting several species of fin fish. Saprolegniosis, the disease caused by this microbe, has a substantial impact on Atlantic salmon aquaculture. No sustainable treatment against saprolegniosis is available, and little is known regarding the host response. In this study, we examined the immune response of Atlantic salmon to S. parasitica infection and to its cell wall carbohydrates. Saprolegnia triggers a strong inflammatory response in its host (i.e., induction of interleukin-1β1 [IL-1β1], IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha), while severely suppressing the expression of genes associated with adaptive immunity in fish, through downregulation of T-helper cell cytokines, antigen presentation machinery, and immunoglobulins. Oomycete cell wall carbohydrates were recognized by fish leukocytes, triggering upregulation of genes involved in the inflammatory response, similar to what is observed during infection. Our data suggest that S. parasitica is capable of producing prostaglanding E2 (PGE2) in vitro, a metabolite not previously shown to be produced by oomycetes, and two proteins with homology to vertebrate enzymes known to play a role in prostaglandin biosynthesis have been identified in the oomycete genome. Exogenous PGE2 was shown to increase the inflammatory response in fish leukocytes incubated with cell wall carbohydrates while suppressing genes involved in cellular immunity (gamma interferon [IFN-γ] and the IFN-γ-inducible protein [γ-IP]). Inhibition of S. parasitica zoospore germination and mycelial growth by two cyclooxygenase inhibitors (aspirin and indomethacin) also suggests that prostaglandins may be involved in oomycete development.
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This work was supported by the European Commission through Marie Curie actions (ITN-SAPRO-238550). We thank J. Dieguez-Uribeondo from the Royal Botanical Gardens (CSIC, Spain) for kindly providing the Saprolegnia diclina VS20 strain. We thank Alan Bowman from the University of Aberdeen for his input into the design of PGE2 purification and analysis.