Fish & shellfish immunology

Transgenic expression of salmon delta-5 and delta-6 desaturase in zebrafish muscle inhibits the growth of Vibrio alginolyticus and affects fish immunomodulatory activity.

PMID 24811009


Marine fish are an important nutritional source for highly polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). PUFA biosynthesis requires the following key enzymes: delta-4 (Δ-4) desaturase, delta-5 (Δ-5) desaturase, delta-6 (Δ-6) desaturase, delta-5 (Δ-5) elongase, and delta-6 (Δ-6) elongase. The effect of overexpressing delta-5 desaturase and/or delta-6 desaturase in zebrafish muscle has not previously been reported. Herein, we investigated the effects of these proteins on antibacterial and immunomodulatory activity in transgenic zebrafish infected with Vibrio alginolyticus. Overexpression of delta-5 and delta-6 desaturase enhanced antibacterial activity at 4 and 12 h after injection of bacteria into muscle, as compared to controls. Furthermore, expression of immune-related genes (IL-1β, IL-22, and TNF-α) was observed to be altered in transgenic fish after 4 h of bacterial infection, resulting in a significant decrease in the inflammatory response, as compared to control fish. These results demonstrate that muscle-specific expression of transgenic desaturases in zebrafish not only enhance PUFA production, but also enhance antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity. Overall, these results identify delta-5 and delta-6 desaturase as novel candidate genes for use in aquaculture, to enhance both disease resistance and fish oil production.