Characterisation of chicken OX40 and OX40L

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The Tumour Necrosis Factor superfamilies of receptors and ligands play a crucial role in the regulation of effective immune responses against pathogens and malignant cells. In chickens, only few members have been identified. Here, we characterise the chicken homologues for mammalian costimulatory molecules OX40 and OX40L, which are involved in sustaining T cell responses. Both genes were identified by virtue of their genomic localisation close to highly conserved genes and their structural relationship to their mammalian homologues. Following cloning and expression of soluble and cell-associated chicken OX40 and OX40L, we confirmed their mutual interaction via ELISA and flow cytometric analyses. In addition, we showed the application of soluble OX40-Fc in staining of chicken cells. Whereas non-activated cells did not express OX40L, activation by IL-2 and IL-12 resulted in upregulation of OX40L on αβ and γδ T cell populations. Our results demonstrate the existence of the costimulatory OX40-OX40L system in the chicken and provide the basis for further investigations of chicken T cell responses.

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