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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 11 (2004), Issue 2, Pages 157-163
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10446670410001722195

Cloning and Sequencing of Protein Kinase cDNA from Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina) Lymphocytes

Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Allergy, Rheumatology, and Immunology, University of California, Davis, CA, USA

Copyright © 2004 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.

Abstract

Protein kinases (PKs) play critical roles in signal transduction and activation of lymphocytes. The identification of PK genes provides a tool for understanding mechanisms of immunotoxic xenobiotics. As part of a larger study investigating persistent organic pollutants in the harbor seal and their possible immunomodulatory actions, we sequenced harbor seal cDNA fragments encoding PKs. The procedure, using degenerate primers based on conserved motifs of human protein tyrosine kinases (PTKs), successfully amplified nine phocid PK gene fragments with high homology to human and rodent orthologs. We identified eight PTKs and one dual (serine/threonine and tyrosine) kinase. Among these were several PKs important in early signaling events through the B- and T-cell receptors (FYN, LYN, ITK and SYK) and a MAP kinase involved in downstream signal transduction. V-FGR, RET and DDR2 were also expressed. Sequential activation of protein kinases ultimately induces gene transcription leading to the proliferation and differentiation of lymphocytes critical to adaptive immunity. PKs are potential targets of bioactive xenobiotics, including persistent organic pollutants of the marine environment; characterization of these molecules in the harbor seal provides a foundation for further research illuminating mechanisms of action of contaminants speculated to contribute to large-scale die-offs of marine mammals via immunosuppression.