Salmon species cultured in Chile evidence different levels of susceptibility to the sea louse Caligus rogercresseyi. These differences have mainly been associated with specific immune responses. Moreover, iron regulation seems to be an important mechanism to confer immunity during the host infestation. This response called nutritional immunity has been described in bacterial infections, despite that no comprehensive studies involving in marine ectoparasites infestation have been reported. With this aim, we analysed the transcriptome profiles of Atlantic and coho salmon infected with C. rogercresseyi to evidence modulation of the iron metabolism as a proxy of nutritional immune responses. Whole transcriptome sequencing was performed in samples of skin and head kidney from Atlantic and coho salmon infected with sea lice. RNA-seq analyses revealed significant upregulation of transcripts in both salmon species at 7 and 14 dpi in skin and head kidney, respectively. However, iron regulation transcripts were differentially modulated, evidencing species-specific expression profiles. Genes related to heme degradation and iron transport such as hepcidin, transferrin and haptoglobin were primary upregulated in Atlantic salmon; meanwhile, in coho salmon, genes associated with heme biosynthesis were strongly transcribed. In summary, Atlantic salmon, which are more susceptible to infestation, presented molecular mechanisms to deplete cellular iron availability, suggesting putative mechanisms of nutritional immunity. In contrast, resistant coho salmon were less affected by sea lice, mainly activating pro-inflammatory mechanisms to cope with infestation.
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