Molecular characterization and expression analysis of interferon-gamma in black seabreamAcanthopagrus schlegelii

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Interferon gamma (IFN-γ) is a major component in immunological signaling and plays a key role in resisting viral infection. In this study, we identified and characterized an IFN-γ gene (AsIFN-γ) in the marine fish black seabream (Acanthopagrus schlegelii). We cloned AsIFN-γ genomic sequence, which comprises four exons, three introns and an upstream promoter including several conserved regulatory elements. The complete cDNA of AsIFN-γ was 816 bp in length and encoded a putative 194 amino acids (aa) protein with a 22 aa signal peptide, six α-helices and one nuclear localization signal (NLS). Multiple alignment showed that AsIFN-γ protein shared 31–60% identity with IFN-γ of other fish but low identity with fish IFN-γrel and IFN-γ of other vertebrates. AsIFN-γ was constitutively expressed in all examined tissues with the highest expression level in immune organs, such as spleen, gill and kidney. In black seabream infected by red spotted nervous necrosis virus (RGNNV), the expression of AsIFN-γ was significantly up-regulated in most tissues, and RGNNV infection in vitro also induced significant up-regulation of AsIFN-γ, indicating that AsIFN-γ was involved in immune response to RGNNV infection. Overexpression of AsIFN-γ in cultured Acanthopagrus schlegelii brain (AsB) cells rapidly and transiently stimulated the expression of JAK-STAT signaling pathway related genes including STAT1, STAT2 and IRF9, as well as the downstream antiviral genes MX1 and ISG15. Furthermore, overexpression of AsIFN-γ was able to significantly inhibit RGNNV replication and virus production in AsB cells. In summary, we identified a conserved IFN-γ gene of black seabream, and demonstrated the rapid and strong antiviral activities of AsIFN-γ against RGNNV in black seabream.

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