Molecular cloning and characterisation of chicken IL-18 binding protein

The human IL-1 receptor family is comprised of 11 membrane bound or soluble receptors and the IL-18 binding protein (IL-18BP). These receptors are dispersed across seven genomic loci, with the majority at a single locus. Direct orthologues were identified in the chicken at conserved genomic loci; however, the IL-18BP remained absent from the first four builds of the chicken genome sequence. Subsequent assemblies identified the gene at a locus syntenic with mammals; however, these predicted sequences differed between genome builds and contained multiple errors. A partial IL-18BP-like sequence in the NCBI EST database was used to clone the full-length cDNA. A splice variant, which lacks the exon that encodes part of the signal peptide, was also cloned. Human IL-18BP is differentially spliced to produce a number of variants, which are all secreted. By contrast, the spliced chicken isoform was predicted to be intracellular, and we identified similar variants with the same exon missing in a limited number of divergent vertebrate species. Mammalian and viral IL-18BPs inhibit IL-18 activity by directly binding to this cytokine. Full-length and intracellular chicken IL-18BPs were equally effective at inhibiting IL-18-mediated IFN-γ release from an avian B-cell line. Analysis of the predicted chIL-18BP protein sequence revealed two crucial residues, which account for 50% of the binding affinity between human IL-18 and IL-18BP, are conserved in the chicken and a fowlpox-encoded homologue, fpv214. This suggests specific fowlpox viruses used in humans as a vaccine vector have the potential to dampen anti-viral host immune responses.

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