Comprehensive and comparative transcription analyses of the complement pathway in rainbow trout

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The complement system is one of the most ancient and most essential innate immune cascades throughout the animal kingdom. Survival of aquatic animals, such as rainbow trout, depends on this early inducible, efficient immune cascade. Despite increasing research on genes coding for complement components in bony fish, some complement-related genes are still unknown in salmonid fish. In the present study, we characterize the genes encoding complement factor D (CFD), CD93 molecule (CD93), and C-type lectin domain family 4, member M (CLEC4M) from rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Subsequently, we performed comprehensive and comparative expression analyses of 36 complement genes including CFD, CD93, and CLEC4M and further putative complement-associated genes to obtain general information about the functional gene interaction within the complement pathway in fish. These quantification analyses were conducted in liver, spleen and gills of healthy fish of two rainbow trout strains, selected for survival (strain BORN) and growth (Import strain), respectively. The present expression study clearly confirms for rainbow trout that liver represents the primary site of complement expression. Spleen and gills also express most complement genes, although the mean transcript levels were generally lower than in liver. The transcription data suggest a contribution of spleen and gills to complement activity. The comparison of the two rainbow trout strains revealed a generally similar complement gene expression. However, a significantly lower expression of numerous genes especially in spleen seems characteristic for the BORN strain. This suggests a strain-specific complement pathway regulation under the selected rearing conditions.

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