Interleukin (IL)-27 is an IL-6/IL-12 family member with pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory properties. It is a heterodimeric cytokine composed of an α-chain p28 and a β-chain Ebi3 (Epstein-Barr virus induce gene 3). The p28 subunit can also be secreted as a monomer and function as IL-30 that acts as an inhibitor of IL-27 signalling. At present, the p28 gene has only been described in mammals. Thus, for the first time outwith mammals, we have identified seven p28 molecules in six divergent teleost fish species, Atlantic salmon, two cichlids, two cyprinids and a yellowtail. The fish p28 molecules have higher similarities to mammalian p28 than other IL-6/12 family members. Critical residues involved in the interaction with Ebi3 and the receptor gp130 are highly conserved. The prediction that these are true orthologues is supported by phylogenetic and synteny analysis. Two p28 paralogues (p28a and p28b) sharing 72% aa identity have been identified and characterised in Atlantic salmon. There are multiple upstream ATGs in the 5'-UTR and ATTTA motifs in the 3'-UTR of both cDNA sequences, suggesting regulation at the post-transcriptional and translational level. Both salmon p28 genes are highly expressed in immune relevant tissues, such as thymus, gills, spleen and head kidney. Conversely salmon Ebi3 is highly expressed in other organs, such as liver and caudal kidney. The expression of p28 but not Ebi3 was induced by PAMPs and recombinant cytokines in head kidney cells, and in spleen by Poly I:C challenge in vivo. The dissociation of the expression and modulation of p28 and Ebi3 suggest that both p28 and Ebi3 may be secreted alone or with other partners.
Keywords: Atlantic salmon Salmo salar; Cloning; Expression; IL-27; p28.
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