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Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2007 Dec;23(6):1218-30. Epub 2007 Jun 22.

Divergent Toll-like receptors in catfish (Ictalurus punctatus): TLR5S, TLR20, TLR21.

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The Fish Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures and Program of Cell and Molecular Biosciences, Aquatic Genomics Unit, Auburn University, 203 Swingle Hall, Auburn, AL 36849, USA.


Toll-like receptors (TLR) mediate pathogen recognition in vertebrate species through detection of conserved microbial ligands. Families of TLR molecules have been described from the genomes of the teleost fish model species zebrafish and Takifugu, but much research remains to characterize the full length sequences and pathogen specificities of individual TLR members in fish. While the majority of these pathogen receptors are conserved among vertebrate species with clear orthologues present in fish for most mammalian TLRs, several interesting differences are present in the TLR repertoire of teleost fish when compared to that of mammals. A soluble form of TLR5 has been reported from salmonid fish and Takifugu rubripes which is not present in mammals, and a large group of TLRs (arbitrarily numbered 19-23) was identified from teleost genomes with no easily discernible orthologues in mammals. To better understand these teleost adaptations to the TLR family, we have isolated, sequenced, and characterized the full-length cDNA and gene sequences of TLR5S, TLR20, and TLR21 from catfish as well as studied their expression pattern in tissues. We also mapped these genes to bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones for genome analysis. While TLR5S appeared to be common in teleost fish, and TLR21 is common to birds, amphibians and fish, TLR20 has only been identified in zebrafish and catfish. Phylogenetic analysis of catfish TLR20 indicated that it is closely related to murine TLR11 and TLR12, two divergent TLRs about which little is known. All three genes appear to exist in catfish as single copy genes.

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