In this study, we isolated and characterized both JAK and STAT genes from Artemia, Artemia franciscana. Although AfJAK showed only 19% identity (33% similarity) to the Drosophila Hop protein, AfJAK contained the characteristic JAK homology domain (JH domain) from JH1 to JH7. On the other hand, AfSTAT showed higher identity (30%) to Drosophila STAT (STAT92E). The low identities of AfJAK and AfSTAT to Drosophila Hop and STAT92E suggest that JAK and STAT proteins are unique in each different species of invertebrate. RT-PCR analysis showed that both AfJAK and AfSTAT transcripts were ubiquitously expressed in the embryo, which is similar to the expression patterns of Drosophila Hop and STAT92E mRNAs during development. In addition, we generated a constitutively active form of AfSTAT by fusing the JH1 domain of AfJAK to the C-terminal end of AfSTAT. This fusion protein, AfSTAT-HA-JH1, autophosphorylated on its tyrosine residue and was able to bind to specific DNA motifs including the STAT-binding motifs in the Drosophila Raf promoter. Both AfJAK and AfSTAT proteins elicited the transactivation potential toward the fly Raf promoter in Sf9 cells. However, tyrosine phosphorylation of AfSTAT was not detected, which is consistent with the cellular localization analysis that most AfSTAT proteins were in the cytoplasm. Our results demonstrate that both JAK and STAT are present in the genome of Artemia, which can serve as the basis for further investigations to explore the role of the JAK/STAT signal pathway in the development and immune response of brine shrimp.
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