Identification of a cDNA encoding channel catfish interferon

Scott Long, Melanie Wilson, Eva Bengten, Locke Bryan, L. W. Clem, N. W. Miller, V. G. Chinchar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Despite considerable advances in our understanding of teleost immunity, relatively few cytokine genes, including those for interferon (IFN), have been identified at the molecular level. In contrast, numerous studies have shown that following virus infection or exposure to double-stranded RNA, fish or fish cells produce a soluble factor that is functionally similar to mammalian IFN. A putative catfish (CF) IFN cDNA was identified by BLASTX screening of a catfish EST library generated from a mixed lymphocyte culture enriched for NK-like cells. Consistent with its designation as a putative cytokine cDNA, the 3′ non-translated region contained multiple copies of an RNA instability motif. Analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence of CF IFN showed low levels of identity/similarity to a panel of mammalian and avian IFN proteins, and markedly higher similarity to a recently identified zebrafish IFN. To determine if the identified cDNA encoded CF IFN, expression was monitored following infection of channel catfish ovary (CCO) cells with UV-inactivated catfish reovirus or exposure to double-stranded RNA, treatments which induce IFN or IFN-like activity in catfish and other species. In both cases, upregulation of putative CF IFN mRNA was detected. Moreover, upregulation of CF IFN mRNA was accompanied by the appearance of an antiviral factor in the culture medium. To confirm these results, recombinant CF IFN was synthesized in COS-7 cells and shown to have antiviral activity in CCO cells. Collectively, these results argue strongly that the identified catfish cDNA is an IFN homolog.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-111
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental and Comparative Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Channel catfish
  • Cytokine gene
  • Ictalurus punctatus
  • Innate immunity
  • Interferon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Developmental Biology


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