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Title: Studies of adaptive immune responses in zebrafish (Danio rerio), with a focus on the role of CD4+ cells
Author: Yoon, Sohye
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
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CD4+ lymphocytes (T helper cells) play a crucial role in orchestrating adaptive immune responses. This project aims to characterise the CD4+ cells in zebrafish (Danio rerio) for a better understanding of adaptive immunity in teleost fish. I cloned three CD4 homologues, termed zfCD4 and zfCD4 related (zfCD4rel1 and zfCD4rel2), with both reported previously in other bony fish species. The zfCD4 and zfCD4rels transcripts were detected in immune organs in zebrafish and were most highly expressed in the lymphocyte population. A moderate induction of the zfCD4 and zfCD4rels (and other immune related genes) was seen in kidney, spleen and intestine after poly (I:C) injection. Two antibodies against CD4 and IFN-γ, respectively, have been validated using various immunostaining approaches for further functional studies. The CD4 positive cells ranged from 20-30% of lymphocytes in zebrafish, similar to what is seen in other vertebrates. The expression level of IFN-γ and other Th cell related genes were analysed in immunised fish following re-stimulation with antigen, revealing that in zfCD4+ lymphocytes an increased expression of cytokines and master transcript factors was seen when the same antigen was used for boosting. This is the first demonstration of Th-type responses effected by CD4+ lymphocytes in a poikilotherm. Lastly, I studied an aspect of Treg function in zebrafish, focused on a master transcription factor of Tregs, the FoxP3 gene. Knocking down FoxP3 genes in zebrafish resulted in modulated gene expression of cytokines and transcription factors associated with Th and Treg cells, providing some evidence that the immune tolerance function of Treg cells may exist in teleost fish, with some sub-functionalisation of the two FoxP3 paralogues apparent. This thesis extends our knowledge into teleost adaptive immune responses mediated by CD4+ Th cells and putative FoxP3+ Treg cells and may aid future studies using zebrafish as a model of vertebrate immune function.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Scottish Overseas Research Awards Scheme
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Zebra danio ; Immune response ; CD4 antigen