Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Characterization of interferon and retroposon-like repetitive elements in salmonid fish

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  • Hatchery-reared salmonid fish routinely encounter stress due to handling, barging, tagging, and overcrowding. It has been demonstrated that there exists a direct correlation between stress and transient immune suppression which can last for many days in fish. Epizootic viral infections routinely appear in hatcheries and can have a devastating effect on the fish population. The major viral pathogens in salmon and trout are the fish rhabdovirus, infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV), and the fish birnavirus, infectious pancreatic necrosis virus (IPNV). Vaccines for these viral pathogens are under investigation; however, the fish immune system becomes virtually nonresponsive during episodes of immune suppression. It was necessary to develop a nonantibody mediated, nonimmune method for preventing viral infections. An interferon-like substance has been described for fish which possesses antiviral activity against both IHNV and IPNV. Since interferon administered to cattle has been very effective against vesicular stomatitis virus, a cattle rhabdovirus, an examination of interferon-like activity in fish was initiated. We report here the establishment of in vitro interferon assays. In addition, the salmonid genome contains a multigene family of p-interferon-like genes, much like those in the bovine, equine and porcine genome. The rainbow trout interferon-like genes were found to be inducible in a manner which parallels those seen with bovine and human interferons. In addition to the multigene interferon-like family, it was found that rainbow trout also contain a retroposon multigene family. Retroposons are repetitive elements which appear to have arisen by a reverse transcription event. Two Ll like repetitive elements have been cloned, one of which contains a Drosophila retroposon polymerase sequences never before described for salmonid fish. A number of retroviruses have been described in fish including the walleye dermal sarcoma virus and the Atlantic salmon swimbladder sarcoma virus. Interferon shows prophylactic promise both in vivo and in vitro, against the human retrovirus, HIV. Therefore, research into fish interferon may be even more important if it demonstrates not only anti- IHNV and anti-IPNV, but also anti-fish retrovirus properties.
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