The innate immune system is an ancient component of host defense. Since innate immunity pathways are well conserved throughout many eukaryotes, immune genes in model animals can be used to putatively identify homologous genes in newly sequenced genomes of non-model organisms. With the initiation of the "i5k" project, which aims to sequence 5,000 insect genomes by 2016, many novel insect genomes will soon become publicly available, yet few annotation resources are currently available for insects. Thus, we developed an online tool called the Insect Innate Immunity Database (IIID) to provide an open access resource for insect immunity and comparative biology research (http://www.vanderbilt.edu/IIID). The database provides users with simple exploratory tools to search the immune repertoires of five insect models (including Nasonia), spanning three orders, for specific immunity genes or genes within a particular immunity pathway. As a proof of principle, we used an initial database with only four insect models to annotate potential immune genes in the parasitoid wasp genus Nasonia. Results specify 306 putative immune genes in the genomes of N. vitripennis and its two sister species N. giraulti and N. longicornis. Of these genes, 146 were not found in previous annotations of Nasonia immunity genes. Combining these newly identified immune genes with those in previous annotations, Nasonia possess 489 putative immunity genes, the largest immune repertoire found in insects to date. While these computational predictions need to be complemented with functional studies, the IIID database can help initiate and augment annotations of the immune system in the plethora of insect genomes that will soon become available.
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