Induction of apoptosis-like cell death by coelomocyte extracts from Eisenia andrei earthworms

Levente László Mácsik, Ildikó Somogyi, Balázs Opper, Judit Bovári-Biri, Edit Pollák, László Molnár, Péter Németh, Péter Engelmann

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Earthworm's innate immunity is maintained by cellular and humoral components. Our objective was to characterize the cytotoxicity leading to target cell death caused by earthworm coelomocytes. Coelomocyte lysates induced strong cytotoxicity in tumor cell lines. Transmission electron microscopy revealed cell membrane and intracellular damage in cells treated with coelomocyte lysates. Using TUNEL-assay, within 5min of incubation we detected DNA fragmentation. Moreover, we found phosphatidylserine translocation in target cell-membranes. Furthermore, we detected dose-dependent Ca2+ influx and decrease of mitochondrial membrane potential in coelomocyte lysate-treated cells. Interestingly, caspase 3/8 activation was undetectable in exposed tumor cells. One such cytotoxic molecule, lysenin identified in earthworms binds to sphingomyelin and causes target cell lysis in vertebrates. Pretreatment with our anti-lysenin monoclonal antibody rescued the majority but not all target cells from coelomocyte induced death. These data suggest that, not only lysenin but also other factors participate in the caspase-independent apoptosis induced by coelomocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-222
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015



  • Caspase cascade
  • Cellular cytotoxicity
  • Lysenin
  • Mitochondrial membrane depolarization
  • Nick end labeling
  • Phosphatidylserine translocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology

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