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Gene expression comparison of resistant and susceptible Atlantic salmon fry challenged with Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis virus reveals a marked contrast in immune response

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    Rights statement: © 2016 Robledo et al. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Original languageEnglish
Article number279
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2016


Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN) is a highly contagious birnavirus disease of farmed salmonid fish, which often causes high levels of morbidity and mortality. A large host genetic component to resistance has been previously described for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.), which mediates high mortality rates in some families and zero mortality in others. However, the molecular and immunological basis for this resistance is not yet fully known. This manuscript describes a global comparison of the gene expression profiles of resistant and susceptible Atlantic salmon fry following challenge with the IPN virus.

Salmon fry from two IPNV-resistant and two IPNV-susceptible full sibling families were challenged with the virus and sampled at 1 day, 7 days and 20 days post-challenge. Significant viral titre was observed in both resistant and susceptible fish at all timepoints, although generally at higher levels in susceptible fish. Gene expression profiles combined with gene ontology and pathway analyses demonstrated that while a clear immune response was observed in both resistant and susceptible fish, there were striking differences between the two phenotypes. The susceptible fish showed marked up-regulation of genes related to cytokine activity and inflammatory response that evidently failed to protect against the virus. In contrast, the resistant fish demonstrated a less pronounced immune response including up-regulation of genes relating to the M2 macrophage system.

While only the susceptible phenotype shows appreciable mortality levels, both resistant and susceptible fish can become infected with IPNV. Susceptible fish are characterized by a much larger, yet ineffective, immune response, largely related to cytokine and inflammatory systems. Resistant fish demonstrate a more moderate, putative macrophage-mediated inflammatory response, which may contribute to their survival.

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