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Chondrichthyes: The Immune System of Cartilaginous Fishes

  • Helen Dooley
Chapter

Abstract

The cartilaginous fishes (sharks, skates, rays, and chimaeras) hold a key evolutionary position, being the most distant group to mammals that possesses a “mammalian-like” adaptive immune system based on immunoglobulins (Ig) and T cell receptors (TCRs), which are somatically rearranged by recombination-activating gene (RAG) proteins, as well as polymorphic/polygenic major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. Cartilaginous fishes are therefore an important research model to investigate the evolution of adaptive immunity and its interplay with the innate system. Despite this, cartilaginous fishes have historically been understudied; while early functional studies revealed sharks were able to produce a humoral response following immune stimulation, subsequent progress was hampered by bottlenecks in immune gene sequencing and a paucity of research tools (such as cell lines and monoclonal antibodies) for use in functional studies.

Recent advances in high-throughput sequencing technologies have allowed us to address at least one of these limitations. With the recent publication of draft genomes for the elephant shark, little skate, and whale shark, in addition to a rapidly increasing number of transcriptomes from various elasmobranch species, we are beginning to fill the gaps in our knowledge of the immune molecules present, thereby gaining a more comprehensive understanding of immune functioning in this key vertebrate group.

Notes

Acknowledgments

Many thanks to my PhD students Rita Pettinello, Anthony Redmond, and Hanover Matz for their helpful comments during the drafting of this chapter. Also to Rita, Anthony, and Kirsty Macleod for allowing me to share their unpublished data.

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Microbiology & ImmunologyUniversity of Maryland School of Medicine, Institute of Marine & Environmental Technology (IMET)BaltimoreUSA

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