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Developmental Immunology
Volume 3 (1992), Issue 1, Pages 51-65

Cellular Pathway(S) of Antigen Processing and Presentation in Fish APC: Endosomal Involvement and Cell-Free Antigen Presentation

1Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA
2Department of Microbiology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi 39216, USA
3Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA

Received 20 May 1992; Accepted 2 June 1992

Copyright © 1992 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Studies were conducted to address further the role(s) of antigen processing and presentation in the induction of immune responses in a phylogenetically lower vertebrate, specifically a teleost, the channel catfish. In particular, studies were aimed at determining the subcellular compartments involved in antigen degradation by channel catfish antigen-presenting cells (APC) as well as ascertaining the reexpression of immunogenic peptides on the surfaces of APC. The results showed that exogenous protein antigens were actively endocytosed by APC as detected by flow cytometry. Use of radiolabeled antigen and subcellular fractionation protocols also showed that antigen localized in endosomes/lysosomes. Furthermore, there was an apparent redistribution of antigen between these organelles and the plasma membrane during the course of antigen pulsing. Functional assays for the induction of in vitro antigen-specific proliferation of immune catfish peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) showed that membrane preparations from antigen-pulsed autologous APC were highly stimulatory. The magnitude of responses elicited with such membrane preparations was very similar to that of PBL cultures stimulated with native antigen-pulsed and fixed intact APC or prefixed intact APC incubated with a peptide fragment of the nominal antigen. Current data further corroborate our previous findings that steps akin to antigen processing and presentation are clearly important in the induction of immune responses in lower vertebrates like fish, in a manner similar to that seen in mammalian systems. Consequently, it would appear that many immune functions among the diverse taxa of vertebrates are remarkably conserved.