FEB 19, 2020 2:29 AM PST

Rainbow trout hold the key to unravelling immunological mysteries

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

What do the gut microbiome, antibodies, and rainbow trout have in common? A lot, says researcher J. Oriol Sunyer from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

As the featured cover story of a recent edition of Science Immunology, Sunyer and colleagues have led a study to better understand the biology of mucosal antibodies, using a unique experimental model — the rainbow trout. In particular, the scientists were interested in IgT, a highly specialized and primitive immunoglobulin, which is specifically associated with mucous membranes.

Examining the microbiome dynamics in the mucosal lining of trout gills revealed that the role that IgT plays in immune protection is indeed a complex one. This antibody performs two seemingly contradictory functions, one to resist the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria, while simultaneously creating an environment where healthy, beneficial bacteria flourish. 

Rodents and cell culture systems have been far more commonly-used experimental models of immunology. So, why trout? "Fish are the earliest bony vertebrates to possess a mucosal immune system, and so the fact that fish possess a specialized immunoglobulin that does both jobs suggests that these two processes are so fundamentally important for vertebrate survival that they arose concurrently, early on in evolution," says Sunyer, who has been using fish models to answer evolutionary and immunological questions for over two decades.

In mammals, the immunoglobulin IgA seems to be the most analogous to IgT in fish. IgA coats vast surface areas of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts and are important mediators of preventing pathogenic microorganisms from invading. Disruptions to IgA-mediated protection could see a shift in the microbiome landscape within these tissues. As more and more emerging evidence is suggesting, such changes to the microbiome are critical drivers in the development of metabolic, malignant and even neurological conditions.

Sunyer believes that we cannot solely rely on mammalian systems to address these difficult immunological questions, saying, “Rainbow trout will help us discover the underlying mechanisms by which the interactions between immunoglobulins and the microbiome influence immunity, metabolism, cancer, and much more."

 

 

Sources: Science Daily, Science Immunology

 

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
APR 23, 2020
Immunology
COVID "Immunity Passports" Are a No-Go
APR 23, 2020
COVID "Immunity Passports" Are a No-Go
  Authorities are caught between dealing with the competing urgencies of abating the COVID-19 health crisis and the ...
MAY 19, 2020
Immunology
The Mystery of the Life-Saving Vaccine Solved
MAY 19, 2020
The Mystery of the Life-Saving Vaccine Solved
In the early 1900s, French bacteriologists Albert Calmette and Camille Guerin spent the better half of a decade developi ...
MAY 19, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
COVID-19 Vaccine On Track for Late 2020
MAY 19, 2020
COVID-19 Vaccine On Track for Late 2020
Moderna, a biotechnology company based in Massachusetts, has released information on its vaccine against COVID-19 from i ...
MAY 19, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Can Chinese Drug Cure COVID-19 Without Vaccine?
MAY 19, 2020
Can Chinese Drug Cure COVID-19 Without Vaccine?
Researchers at China’s Peking University have announced that they are developing a treatment capable of blocking C ...
JUL 26, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
MAIT Cell Disappearance is Connected to a Genetic Mutation
JUL 26, 2020
MAIT Cell Disappearance is Connected to a Genetic Mutation
Mucosal-associated invariant T cells appear to be a critical part of the human immune system, and dysfunction in these c ...
JUL 27, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
White Blood Cells Are Essential to the Developing Brain
JUL 27, 2020
White Blood Cells Are Essential to the Developing Brain
The brain is protected by a protective shield called the blood-brain barrier, which only allows certain things to pass t ...
Loading Comments...