Mucosal immunoglobulins at respiratory surfaces mark an ancient association that predates the emergence of tetrapods

Nat Commun. 2016 Feb 12;7:10728. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10728.


Gas-exchange structures are critical for acquiring oxygen, but they also represent portals for pathogen entry. Local mucosal immunoglobulin responses against pathogens in specialized respiratory organs have only been described in tetrapods. Since fish gills are considered a mucosal surface, we hypothesized that a dedicated mucosal immunoglobulin response would be generated within its mucosa on microbial exposure. Supporting this hypothesis, here we demonstrate that following pathogen exposure, IgT(+) B cells proliferate and generate pathogen-specific IgT within the gills of fish, thus providing the first example of locally induced immunoglobulin in the mucosa of a cold-blooded species. Moreover, we demonstrate that gill microbiota is predominantly coated with IgT, thus providing previously unappreciated evidence that the microbiota present at a respiratory surface of a vertebrate is recognized by a mucosal immunoglobulin. Our findings indicate that respiratory surfaces and mucosal immunoglobulins are part of an ancient association that predates the emergence of tetrapods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Ciliophora Infections / immunology
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Fish Proteins
  • Flavobacteriaceae Infections / immunology
  • Flavobacterium / immunology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gills / immunology*
  • Gills / microbiology
  • Hymenostomatida / immunology
  • Immunoglobulins / immunology*
  • Microbiota / immunology*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Oncorhynchus mykiss / immunology*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / immunology*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Fish Proteins
  • Immunoglobulins
  • immunoglobulin T, teleost