Lampreys are a jawless vertebrate species belonging to an ancient vertebrate lineage that diverged from a common ancestor with humans ~500 million years ago. The sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) has a filter feeding ammocoete larval stage that metamorphoses into a parasitic adult, feeding both on teleost and elasmobranch fish. Lampreys are a valuable comparative model species for vertebrate immunity and physiology due to their unique phylogenetic position, unusual adaptive immune system, and physiological adaptions such as tolerance to salinity changes and urea.
Peptidylarginine deiminases (PADs) are a phylogenetically conserved enzyme family which catalyses post-translational deimination/citrullination in target proteins, enabling proteins to gain new functions (moonlighting). The identification of deiminated protein targets in species across phylogeny may provide novel insights into post-translational regulation of physiological and pathophysiological processes. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are membrane vesicles released from cells that carry cargos of small molecules and proteins for cellular communication, involved in both normal and pathological processes. The current study identified deimination signatures in proteins of both total plasma and plasma-EVs in sea lamprey and furthermore reports the first characterisation of plasma-EVs in lamprey. EVs were poly-dispersed in the size range of 40–500 nm, similar to what is observed in other taxa, positive for CD63 and Flotillin-1. Plasma-EV morphology was confirmed by transmission electron microscopy. Assessment of deimination/citrullination signatures in lamprey plasma and plasma-EVs, revealed 72 deimination target proteins involved in immunity, metabolism and gene regulation in whole plasma, and 37 target proteins in EVs, whereof 24 were shared targets. Furthermore, the presence of deiminated histone H3, indicative of gene-regulatory mechanisms and also a marker of neutrophil extracellular trap formation (NETosis), was confirmed in lamprey plasma. Functional protein network analysis revealed some differences in KEGG and GO pathways of deiminated proteins in whole plasma compared with plasma-EVs. For example, while common STRING network clusters in plasma and plasma-EVs included Peptide chain elongation, Viral mRNA translation, Glycolysis and gluconeogenesis, STRING network clusters specific for EVs only included: Cellular response to heat stress, Muscle protein and striated muscle thin filament, Nucleosome, Protein processing in endoplasmic reticulum, Nucleosome and histone deacetylase complex. STRING network clusters specific for plasma were: Adipokinetic hormone receptor activity, Fibrinogen alpha/beta chain family, peptidase S1A, Glutathione synthesis and recycling-arginine, Fructose 1,6-bisphosphate metabolic process, Carbon metabolism and lactate dehydrogenase activity, Post-translational protein phosphorylation, Regulation of insulin-like growth factor transport and clotting cascade. Overall, for the EV citrullinome, five STRING network clusters, 10 KEGG pathways, 15 molecular GO pathways and 29 Reactome pathways were identified, compared with nine STRING network clusters, six KEGG pathways, two Molecular GO pathways and one Reactome pathway specific for whole plasma; while further pathways were shared. The reported findings indicate that major pathways relevant for immunity and metabolism are targets of deimination in lamprey plasma and plasma-EVs, with some differences, and may help elucidating roles for the conserved PAD enzyme family in regulation of immune and metabolic function throughout phylogeny.