Some Galeomorph Sharks Express a Mammalian Microglia-Specific Protein in Radial Ependymoglia of the Telencephalon

Brain Behav Evol. 2018;91(1):17-30. doi: 10.1159/000484196. Epub 2017 Dec 13.


Ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule 1 (Iba1), also known as allograft inflammatory factor 1 (AIF-1), is a highly conserved cytoplasmic scaffold protein. Studies strongly suggest that Iba1 is associated with immune-like reactions in all Metazoa. In the mammalian brain, it is abundantly expressed in microglial cells and is used as a reliable marker for this cell type. The present study used multiple-label microscopy and Western blotting to examine Iba1 expression in the telencephalon of 2 galeomorph shark species, the swellshark (Cephaloscyllium ventriosum) and the horn shark (Heterodontus francisci), a member of an ancient extant order. In the swellshark, high Iba1 expression was found in radial ependymoglial cells, many of which also expressed glial fibrillary acidic protein. Iba1 expression was absent from most cells in the horn shark (with the possible exception of perivascular cells). The difference in Iba1 expression between the species was supported by protein analysis. These results suggest that radial ependymoglia of the elasmobranchs may be functionally related to mammalian microglia and that Iba1 expression has undergone evolutionary changes in this cartilaginous group.

Keywords: AIF-1; Allograft inflammatory factor 1; Astrocytes; Elasmobranch; Ependymoglia; Glial fibrillary acidic protein; Iba1; Ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule 1; Microglia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Ependymoglial Cells / cytology
  • Ependymoglial Cells / metabolism*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Fish Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Sharks / anatomy & histology
  • Sharks / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity
  • Telencephalon / cytology
  • Telencephalon / metabolism*


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Fish Proteins