Transcription of histones H1 and H2B is regulated by several immune stimuli in gilthead seabream and European sea bass

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Histones (H1 to H4) are the primary proteins which mediate the folding of DNA into chromatin; however, and in addition to this function, histones have been also related to antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) activity in vertebrates, in fact, mammalian H1 is mobilized as part as the anti-viral immune response. In fish, histones with AMP activity have been isolated and characterized mainly from skin and gonads. One of most threatening pathogens for wild and cultured fish species nowadays is nodavirus (NNV), which target tissues are the brain and retina, but it is also able to colonize the gonad and display vertical transmission. Taking all this into account we have identified the h1 and h2b coding sequences in European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) fish species and studied their pattern of expression under naïve conditions and NNV in vivo infection. The data obtained prompted us to study their role on the immune response of gonad and head-kidney leucocytes upon viral (NNV), bacteria (Vibrio anguillarum or Photobacterium damselae), pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) or mitogens stimulation. The h1 and h2b genes are expressed in a wide range of tissues and their expression is modify by infection or other immune stimuli, but further studies will be needed to determine the significance of these changes. These results suggest that h1 expression is related to the immune response against NNV in the brain, while h2b transcription seems to be more important in the head-kidney. Moreover, the potential role of histones as anti-viral agents is suggested and further characterization is in progress.

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