Functional Identification of Dendritic Cells in the Teleost Model, Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
by Elizabeth Bassity, Theodore G. Clark
Dendritic cells are specialized antigen presenting cells that bridge innate and adaptive immunity in mammals. This link between the ancient innate immune system and the more evolutionarily recent adaptive immune system is of particular interest in fish, the oldest vertebrates to have both innate and adaptive immunity. It is unknown whether dendritic cells co-evolved with the adaptive response, or if the connection between innate and adaptive immunity relied on a fundamentally different cell type early in evolution. We approached this question using the teleost model organism, rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), with the aim of identifying dendritic cells based on their ability to stimulate naïve T cells. Adapting mammalian protocols for the generation of dendritic cells, we established a method of culturing highly motile, non-adherent cells from trout hematopoietic tissue that had irregular membrane processes and expressed surface MHCII. When side-by-side mixed leukocyte reactions were performed, these cells stimulated greater proliferation than B cells or macrophages, demonstrating their specialized ability to present antigen and therefore their functional homology to mammalian dendritic cells. Trout dendritic cells were then further analyzed to determine if they exhibited other features of mammalian dendritic cells. Trout dendritic cells were found to have many of the hallmarks of mammalian DCs including tree-like morphology, the expression of dendritic cell markers, the ability to phagocytose small particles, activation by toll-like receptor-ligands, and the ability to migrate in vivo. As in mammals, trout dendritic cells could be isolated directly from the spleen, or larger numbers could be derived from hematopoietic tissue and peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro.
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