The gills of fish are a mucosal tissue that contains T cells involved in the recognition of non-self and pathogens, and in this work we describe some features of gill-associated T cells of European sea bass, a marine model species. A whole transcriptome was obtained by deep sequencing of RNA from unstimulated gills that has been analyzed for the presence of T cell-related transcripts. Of the putative expressed sequences identified in the transcriptome, around 30 were related to main functions related to T cells including Th1/Th2/Th17/Treg cell subpopulations, thus suggesting their possible presence in the branchial epithelium. The number of T cells in the gills of sea bass, measured with the specific T cell mAb DLT15 range from 10% to 20%, and IHC analysis shows their abundance and distribution in the epithelium. Leukocytes from gills are able to proliferate in the presence of lectins ConA and PHA, as measured by flow cytometry using CFSE fluorescence incorporation, and during proliferation the number of T cells counted by immunofluorescence increased. In lectin-proliferating cells the expression of T cell-related genes TRβ, TRγ, CD4, CD8α, CD45 and IL-10 increased dramatically. Our data represent a first analysis on T cell genes and on basic T cell activities of fish gills, and suggest the presence of functionally active subpopulations of T lymphocytes in this tissue.
Keywords: Gills; Proliferation; Sea bass; T cells; Transcriptome.
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