Open Access

Sweet Tunicate Blood Cells: A Glycan Profiling of Haemocytes in Three Ascidian Species

In Advances in Aquatic Invertebrate Stem Cell Research, , Eds.


Ascidians are invertebrate chordates and may reveal parallels to vertebrate traits including cellular immunity, tissue rejection, and self-renewal, all functions executed by ascidian blood cells. Understanding their individual properties, functional plasticity, and lineage resemblances among ascidian species is, however, limited by a lack of cytochemical and molecular markers. We performed a lectin-based glycan profiling of haemocytes in three selected ascidian species to compare different blood cell populations and mirror their relatedness. We found differing repertoires of species-specific glycans for blood cells believed to be homologous in their function. Within species, characteristic glycans or glycan combinations mark haemocyte types and support their hematopoietic relatedness or distinguish maturation stages. Strikingly, Ciona and Phallusia haemoblasts have few carbohydrate decorations and drastically differ from differentiated cells, likewise phagocytes from cytotoxic cells, as compared with Botryllus, where a complex role of haemocytes in asexual self-renewal and allorecognition may involve carbohydrates. Cytotoxic cells generally carry most decorations. Within cell types, specific carbohydrates reside on the cell surface including amoeboid extensions, while others are within granules possibly marking molecules important in cytotoxicity and crosslinking. Taken together, these carbohydrate biosensors should further the molecular and functional characterisation of the outstanding properties of the different haemocytes in genetically accessible ascidian species.
Advances in Aquatic Invertebrate Stem Cell Research
Published in:

Advances in Aquatic Invertebrate Stem Cell Research

Loriano Ballarin,
Baruch Rinkevich ORCID link and
Bert Hobmayer
, Eds.
Published: February 2022
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