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Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2005 Nov;19(5):413-27.

Development and function of the thymus in teleosts.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, University of Aberdeen, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen, AB24 2TZ Scotland, UK.


The thymus plays a pivotal role in the development of the adaptive immune system, an important factor that separates higher vertebrates from the rest of the animal phyla. The development of functional T-cells from thymocytes is a crucial step in the development of a functional vertebrate immune system and whilst recent advances in molecular and developmental biology have advanced our understanding of T-cell development, they have also provided potential model species across the vertebrate phyla including the zebrafish (Danio rerio). However, this species is one of more than 20,000 species of fish that could assist in elucidating the development of the vertebrate thymus and, consequently, the evolution of the vertebrate immune response. In this paper we review the knowledge of the teleost thymus through the organogenesis and development studies in teleosts together with advances in molecular and functional approaches. Where necessary we will combine this knowledge with that obtained in higher vertebrates.

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