Our previous studies have demonstrated that virus-specific cell-mediated cytotoxicity of sensitized leukocytes can be induced using clonal ginbuna crucian carp and their syngeneic cell lines. In the present study, we attempt to determine if virus-specific cytotoxic cell populations of fish express CD8α and TCRβ genes. Leukocytes from ginbuna crucian carp were separated into four fractions by immunomagnetic separation and density gradient centrifugation: Fraction A, leukocytes with a density of 1.08 g/ml (primarily lymphocytes); Fraction B, sIg-negative leukocytes with density of 1.08 g/ml; Fraction C, sIg-positive cells (primarily B-lymphocytes); Fraction D, leukocytes with a density of 1.08-1.09 g/ml (primarily neutrophils). Leukocytes in all fractions from uninfected fish do not exhibit cytotoxic activity against virus-infected syngeneic cells and weakly express CD8α and TCRβ mRNAs. In contrast, leukocytes in fractions A and B from virus-infected fish exhibit a high level of cytotoxic activity and strongly express CD8α and TCRβ mRNAs. In addition, mRNA expressions of CD8α and TCRβ in effector cells are upregulated by cocultivation with virus-infected target cells but not uninfected ones. The present study suggests that fish possess virus-specific cytotoxic cells with phenotype and gene expression pattern similar to those of CTLs in mammals.
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