Year of publication:
Journal title abbreviated:
MOL BIOL EVOL
Journal title long:
Molecular biology and evolution
Distinguishing self from nonself and the onset of defense effector mechanisms upon recognition of pathogens are essential for the survival of all life forms in the animal kingdom. The family of nucleotide -binding and oligomeriszation domain-like receptors (NLRs) was first identified in vertebrates and comprises a group of pivotal sensor protein of the innate immune system for microbial cell wall components or danger signals. Here, we provide first evidence that early diverging metazoans have large and complex NLR repertoires. The cnidarian NACHT/NB-ARC genes include novel combinations of domains, and the number of one specific type (NB-ARC and tetratricopeptide repeat containing) in Hydra is particularly large. We characterize the transcript structure and expression patterns of a selected HyNLR, HyNLR type 1 and describe putative interaction partners. In a heterologous expression system, we show induced proximity recruitment of an effector caspase (HyDD-Caspase) to the HyNLR type 1 protein upon oligomerization indicating a potential role of caspase activation downstream of NLR activation in Hydra. These results add substantially to our understanding of the ancestral innate immune repertoire as well as providing the first insights into putative cytoplasmic defense mechanisms at the base of animal evolution.