Induction of the innate immune pathways is critical for early anti-viral defense but there is limited understanding of how teleost fish recognize viral molecules and activate these pathways. In mammals, Toll-like receptors (TLR) 7 and 8 bind single-stranded RNA of viral origin and are activated by synthetic anti-viral imidazoquinoline compounds. Herein, we identify and describe the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) TLR7 and TLR8 gene orthologs and their mRNA expression. Two TLR7/8 loci were identified from a rainbow trout bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library using DNA fingerprinting and genetic linkage analyses. Direct sequencing of two representative BACs revealed intact omTLR7 and omTLR8a1 open reading frames (ORFs) located on chromosome 3 and a second locus on chromosome 22 that contains an omTLR8a2 ORF and a putative TLR7 pseudogene. We used the omTLR8a1/2 nomenclature for the two trout TLR8 genes as phylogenetic analysis revealed that they and all the other teleost TLR8 genes sequenced to date are similar to the zebrafish TLR8a, but are distinct from the zebrafish TLR8b. The duplicated trout loci exhibit conserved synteny with other fish genomes extending beyond the tandem of TLR7/8 genes. The trout TLR7 and 8a1/2 genes are composed of a single large exon similar to all other described TLR7/8 genes. The omTLR7 ORF is predicted to encode a 1049 amino acid (aa) protein with 84% similarity to the Fugu TLR7 and a conserved pattern of predicted leucine-rich repeats (LRR). The omTLR8a1 and omTLR8a2 are predicted to encode 1035- and 1034-aa proteins, respectively, and have 86% similarity to each other. omTLR8a1 is likely the ortholog of the only Atlantic salmon TLR8 gene described to date as they have 95% aa sequence similarity. The tissue expression profiles of omTLR7, omTLR8a1 and omTLR8a2 in healthy trout were highest in spleen tissue followed by anterior and then posterior kidney tissues. Rainbow trout anterior kidney leukocytes produced elevated levels of pro-inflammatory and type I interferon cytokines mRNA in response to stimulation with the human TLR7/8 agonist R848 or the TLR3 agonist poly I:C. Only poly I:C-induced IFN2 transcription was significantly suppressed in the presence of chloroquine, a compound known to block endosomal acidification and inhibit endosomal maturation. The effect of chloroquine on R848-induced cytokine expression was equivocal and so it remains questionable whether rainbow trout recognition of R848 requires endosomal maturation. TLR7 and TLR8a1 expression levels in rainbow trout anterior kidney leukocytes were not affected by poly I:C or R848 treatments, but surprisingly, TLR8a2 expression was moderately down-regulated by R848. The down-regulation of omTLR8a2 may imply that this gene has evolved to a new or altered function in rainbow trout, as often occurs when the two duplicated genes remain active.
Additional publication details
Identification, characterization and genetic mapping of TLR7, TLR8a1 and TLR8a2 genes in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)