Molecular characterization and functional analysis of IL-18 in snakehead (Channa argus) during Aeromonas schubertii and Nocardia seriolae infections

Mol Immunol. 2021 Sep;137:212-220. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2021.07.013. Epub 2021 Jul 17.


As a proinflammatory cytokine of the interleukin-1 (IL-1) family, IL-18 plays important roles in host protection against bacterial, viral, and fungal infection. We cloned the open reading frame of snakehead (Channa argus) IL-18 (shIL-18) and found that it contained 609 base pairs and encoded 202 amino acid residues. The shIL-18 included a conserved IL-1-like family signature and two potential IL-1β-converting enzyme cutting sites; one was conserved in all analyzed IL-18s, but the other was unique to shIL-18. Unlike other IL-18s, shIL-18 also contained a predicted signal peptide. In this study, shIL-18 was constitutively expressed in all tested tissues, and its expression was induced by Aeromonas schubertii and Nocardia seriolae in the head kidney and spleen in vivo and by lipoteichoic acid, lipopolysaccharides, and polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid in head kidney leukocytes in vitro. Moreover, recombinant shIL-18 upregulated the expression of interferon-γ, IL-1β, and tumor necrosis factor-α1 and -α2 and promoted the proliferation of leukocytes. Taken together, these results showed that IL-18 played crucial roles in host defense against bacterial infection in fish, as it does in mammals.

Keywords: Aeromonas schubertii; Bacterial infection; IL-18; Nocardia seriolae; Snakehead.