Fish & shellfish immunology

Identification of a single p19 gene and three p40 paralogues in grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus): Their potential for the formation of interleukin 23 and inducible expression in vitro and in vivo.

PMID 29024769


Interleukin (IL-) 23, a member of IL-12 family, is a composite cytokine with the subunits of p19 and p40. Although IL-12 and IL-23 share the p40 subunit, they play vastly different roles in immune regulation. In teleost, much emphasis has been placed on the identification of IL-12, but evidence for the existence of IL-23 is still lacking. In the present study, a p19 gene and three p40 paralogues were isolated and identified from grass carp, suggesting multiple assembly of IL-23 molecules in fish species. To address this issue, the existence of different p19/p40 heterodimers were examined by Co-Immunoprecipitation (Co-IP) assay, showing that only co-expression of p19 and each p40 subunit could produce the soluble proteins corresponding to three IL-23 isoforms. Additionally, bacterial infection could up-regulate the mRNA expression of p19, p40a and p40b but not p40c in head kidney, indicating distinct expression patterns of three p40 paralogues. Moreover, in vitro experiments demonstrated that both B-cell stimulator, LPS and T-cell mitogen, PHA markedly increased the mRNA levels of p19 and three p40 paralogues in grass carp periphery blood lymphocytes (PBLs). The simultaneous up-regulation of mRNA expression of p19 and p40 paralogues in response to immune stimuli supports the idea that p19 may form heterodimeric molecules with three p40 subunits in grass carp under immune activation. These findings for the first time highlight the potential of p19 and p40 for dimerization in fish, particularly the existence of three IL-23 isoforms as soluble heterodimeric cytokines in grass carp, thereby providing the basis for further investigating the function of IL-23 in fish immunity.