TLR21 is involved in the NF-κB and IFN-β pathways in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and interacts with TRIF but not with the Myd88 adaptor

Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2024 Jun 29:151:109734. doi: 10.1016/j.fsi.2024.109734. Online ahead of print.


Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are pattern recognition receptors that trigger host immune responses against various pathogens by detecting evolutionarily conserved pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). TLR21 is a member of the Toll-like receptor family, and emerging data suggest that it recognises unmethylated CpG DNA and is considered a functional homologue of mammalian TLR9. However, little is known regarding the role of TLR21 in the fish immune response. In the present study, we isolated the cDNA sequence of TLR21 from the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and termed it MsTLR21. The MsTLR21 gene contained an open reading frame (ORF) of 2931 bp and encodes a polypeptide of 976 amino acids. The predicted MsTLR21 protein has two conserved domains, a conserved leucine-rich repeats (LRR) domain and a C-terminal Toll-interleukin (IL) receptor (TIR) domain, similar to those of other fish and mammals. In healthy largemouth bass, the TLR21 transcript was broadly expressed in all the examined tissues, with the highest expression levels in the gills. After challenge with Nocardia seriolae and polyinosinic polycytidylic acid (Poly[I:C]), the expression of TLR21 mRNA was upregulated or downregulated in all tissues tested. Overexpression of TLR21 in 293T cells showed that it has a positive regulatory effect on nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) and interferons-β (IFN-β) activity. Subcellular localisation analysis showed that TLR21 was expressed in the cytoplasm. We performed pull-down assays and determined that TLR21 did not interact with myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (Myd88); however, it interacted with TIR domain-containing adaptor inducing interferon-β (TRIF). Taken together, these findings suggest that MsTLR21 plays important roles in TLR/IL-1R signalling pathways and the immune response to pathogen invasion.

Keywords: IFN-β; Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides); Myd88; NF-κB; TLR21; TRIF.