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Nat Commun. 2016 Feb 12;7:10728. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10728.

Mucosal immunoglobulins at respiratory surfaces mark an ancient association that predates the emergence of tetrapods.

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Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 413 Rosenthal building, 3800 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.
Department of Aquatic Animal Medicine, College of Fisheries, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, Hubei 430070, China.
Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona 08193, Spain.
Laboratory of Aquatic Pathobiology, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiskberg DK-1870, Denmark.
Research Division, Clear Springs Foods Inc., P O Box 712, Buhl, Idaho 83316, USA.


Gas-exchange structures are critical for acquiring oxygen, but they also represent portals for pathogen entry. Local mucosal immunoglobulin responses against pathogens in specialized respiratory organs have only been described in tetrapods. Since fish gills are considered a mucosal surface, we hypothesized that a dedicated mucosal immunoglobulin response would be generated within its mucosa on microbial exposure. Supporting this hypothesis, here we demonstrate that following pathogen exposure, IgT(+) B cells proliferate and generate pathogen-specific IgT within the gills of fish, thus providing the first example of locally induced immunoglobulin in the mucosa of a cold-blooded species. Moreover, we demonstrate that gill microbiota is predominantly coated with IgT, thus providing previously unappreciated evidence that the microbiota present at a respiratory surface of a vertebrate is recognized by a mucosal immunoglobulin. Our findings indicate that respiratory surfaces and mucosal immunoglobulins are part of an ancient association that predates the emergence of tetrapods.

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