Ivan Ponce

Document Type

Honors Thesis


With the rise of global temperatures, cnidarians are becoming more susceptible to disease within oceanic environments. Cnidarians rely on innate immunity through the melanin synthesis cascade using the pro-phenol oxidase (PPO) “tyrosinase” to combat pathogens. Although the function of vertebrae PPO immune response is well annotated, it is tragically used as a cascade model to understand cnidarian immunity. This study focuses on the relationship between cnidarian, utilizing Cassiopea xamachana, and human melanin synthesis cascades. Bioinformatic programs such as Composition Profiler, Mega-X, SWISS-MODEL, and PFAM were used to analyze these species’ tyrosinases. The data show there were major differences between the species’ tyrosinases when observing contemporary enzyme morphology and phylogeny; however, primitive tyrosinase structures serve as a foundation for conserved regions found within the various species’ protein sequences. This can be explained by modifications of tyrosinase function along the evolutionary line to suit different environmental pressures. Regardless of the differences observed in this study, comparisons between cnidarian and human PPO function may still lead to better in vitro and in situ studies—as more model organisms are studied and incorporated into cnidarian research—benefitting coral and jellyfish species against disease.

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