The gamma-chain cytokine/receptor system in fish: more ligands and receptors

Tiehui Wang, Wenshu Huang, Maria M Costa, Christopher J Secombes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The mammalian gamma-chain (γC) cytokine family consists of interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9, IL-15 and IL-21. They signal through a receptor complex containing the common γC and a private alpha chain, and in the case of IL-2 and IL-15 an additional common IL-2/15Rβ chain. Deficiency of γC signalling in mammals prevents CD4+ T cells from developing effector functions and CD8+ T cells from developing immunological memory. Thus γC cytokines are critical for the generation and peripheral homeostasis of naïve and memory T cells. This review will give an update on the γC ligands and receptor subunits in fish, and also present some new data on the cloning and expression of a second γC and two IL-2Rβ chains in rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. In recent years, aided by the availability of sequenced fish genomes and expressed sequence tag databases, five of the six mammalian γC cytokines and their cognate receptors have been discovered in fish, with only the IL-9/IL-9R homologues apparently absent. Paralogues have been discovered in diploid fish and all the receptors described in the tetraploid rainbow trout, including γC itself, IL-2Rβ, IL-4Rα, IL-13Rα1, IL-13Rα2 and IL-2/15Rα, have duplicates. As a consequence of the teleost and salmonid whole genome duplications, even more paralogues may yet be discovered. Some of the paralogues have changes in domain structures and show differential expression and modulation, suggesting the potential for a change in function. Functional characterisation of fish γC cytokines is beginning but made more difficult by the co-existence of so many paralogues of the ligands and their receptors. Initial functional studies have shown that fish γC cytokines can modulate the expression of key cytokines (e.g. interferon-γ, IL-10 and IL-22) of the adaptive immune response, and may thus have promise as adjuvants to improve vaccination efficiency in fish.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-687
Number of pages15
JournalFish & Shellfish Immunology
Issue number5
Early online date2 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • animals
  • chemokines, C
  • fishes
  • ligands
  • receptors, cytokine
  • fish
  • expression
  • modulation


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