Characterisation and expression analysis of the Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus L.) cytokines: IL-1β, IL-6, IL-11, IL-12β and IFNγ
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Genes encoding the five Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus L.) cytokines; interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-11b, IL-12βc, and interferon (IFN) γ, were cloned and characterised at a molecular level. The genomic organisation of the halibut cytokine genes was similar to that seen in mammals and/or other fish species. Several mRNA instability motifs were found within the 3′-untranslated region (UTR) of all cytokine cDNA sequences. The putative cytokine protein sequences showed a low sequence identity with the corresponding homologues in mammals, avian and other fish species. Nevertheless, important structural features were presumably conserved such as the presence, or absence in the case of IL-1β, of a signal peptide, secondary structure and family signature motifs. The relative expression pattern of the cytokine genes was analyzed in several halibut organs, revealing a constitutive expression in both lymphoid and non-lymphoid organs. Interestingly, the gills showed a relatively high expression of IL-1β, IL-12βc and IFNγ. The real time RT-PCR data also showed that the mRNA level of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-12βc and IFNγ was high in the thymus, while IL-11b was relatively highly expressed in the posterior kidney and posterior gut. Moreover, the halibut brain showed a relatively high level of IL-6 transcripts. Anterior kidney leucocytes in vitro stimulated with imiquimod showed a significant increase in mRNA level of the five halibut cytokine genes. The sequence and characterisation data presented here will be useful for further investigation of both innate and adaptive immune responses in halibut, and be helpful in the design of vaccines for the control of various infectious diseases.