The CD8α gene in duck (Anatidae): cloning, characterization, and expression during viral infection


Cluster of differentiation 8 alpha (CD8α) is critical for cell-mediated immune defense and T-cell development. Although CD8α sequences have been reported for several species, very little is known about CD8α in ducks. To elucidate the mechanisms involved in the innate and adaptive immune responses of ducks, we cloned CD8α coding sequences from domestic, Muscovy, Mallard, and Spotbill ducks using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Each sequence consisted of 714 nucleotides and encoded a signal peptide, an IgV-like domain, a stalk region, a transmembrane region, and a cytoplasmic tail. We identified 58 nucleotide differences and 37 amino acid differences among the four types of duck; of these, 53 nucleotide and 33 amino acid differences were between Muscovy ducks and the other duck species. The CD8α cDNA sequence from domestic duck consisted of a 61-nucleotide 5′ untranslated region (UTR), a 714-nucleotide open reading frame, and an 849-nucleotide 3′ UTR. Multiple sequence alignments showed that the amino acid sequence of CD8α is conserved in vertebrates. RT-PCR revealed that expression of CD8α mRNA of domestic ducks was highest in the thymus and very low in the kidney, cerebrum, cerebellum, and muscle. Immunohistochemical analyses detected CD8α on the splenic corpuscle and periarterial lymphatic sheath of the spleen. CD8α mRNA in domestic ducklings was initially up-regulated, and then down-regulated, in the thymus, spleen, and liver after treatment with duck hepatitis virus type I (DHV-1) or the immunostimulant polyriboinosinic polyribocytidylic acid (poly I:C).

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We are grateful to Prof. Peng DX and Dr. Chen SJ (Yangzhou University) for their suggestions and technical assistance. This work was supported financially by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31101704), Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (BK20141275) and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (2011-137).

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The authors have declared that no conflict of interest exists.

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Correspondence to Guo Hong Chen.

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Xu, Q., Chen, Y., Zhao, W.M. et al. The CD8α gene in duck (Anatidae): cloning, characterization, and expression during viral infection. Mol Biol Rep 42, 431–439 (2015).

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  • CD8α
  • Duck
  • Gene cloning
  • Gene expression
  • Viral infection