A highly stable, non-digestible lectin from Pomacea diffusa unveils clade-related protection systems in apple snail eggs

Tabata R. Brola, Marcos S. Dreon*, Jian Wen Qiu, Horacio Heras

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The acquisition of egg protection is vital for species survival. Poisonous eggs from Pomacea apple snails have defensive macromolecules for protection. Here we isolated and characterized a novel lectin called PdPV1 that is massively accumulated in the eggs of Pomacea diffusa and seems part of its protective cocktail. The native protein, an oligomer of ca 256 kDa, has high structural stability, withstanding 15 min boiling and denaturing by SDS. It resists in vitro proteinase digestion and displays structural stability between pH 2.0 and pH 12.0, and up to 85°C. These properties, as well as its subunit sequences, glycosylation pattern, presence of carotenoids, size and global shape resemble those of its orthologs from other Pomacea. Furthermore, like members of the canaliculata clade, PdPV1 is recovered unchanged in feces of mice ingesting it, supporting an anti-nutritive defensive function. PdPV1 also displays a strong hemagglutinating activity, specifically recognizing selected ganglioside motifs with high affinity. This activity is only shared with PsSC, a perivitelline from the same clade (bridgesii clade). As a whole, these results indicate that species in the genus Pomacea have diversified their egg defenses: Those from the bridgesii clade are protected mostly by non-digestible lectins that lower the nutritional value of eggs, in contrast with protection by neurotoxins of other Pomacea clades, indicating that apple snail egg defensive strategies are clade specific. The harsh gastrointestinal environment of predators would have favored their appearance, extending by convergent evolution the presence of plant-like highly stable lectins, a strategy not reported in other animals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb231878
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Ampullariidae
  • Egg defense
  • Gastropods
  • Glycan array
  • Lectin activity
  • Protein structure


Dive into the research topics of 'A highly stable, non-digestible lectin from Pomacea diffusa unveils clade-related protection systems in apple snail eggs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this