Gene expression of beta-defensins in chicken white blood cells



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Infectious agents such as bacteria or viruses can grow rapidly. If a microorganism invades a host, it must be recognized rapidly and destroyed before it overwhelms the immune system. Limiting infection to a minimum in the early stage is critical for the outcome and the recovery from infection. The innate immune system has evolved to recognize a few highly conserved, constitutive structures present only in microorganisms, such as bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMP). Toll-like receptors are the host receptors that recognize PAMP, ultimately activating a variety of transcription factors to induce expression of a wide spectrum of immune related genes, e.g. defensins. Defensins are antimicrobial peptides that play an important role in innate defense against microorganisms in plants and animals. Beta-defensins are the largest family of antimicrobial peptides, which can directly kill microorganisms and have regulatory effects on the immune system. Thirteen beta-defensins have been identified; however, the regulation of these genes has not been well-investigated in the chicken. The objective of this research was to understand constitutive and inducible gene expression of beta-defensins in chicken white blood cells. Real-time RT-PCR was used to quantify gene expression level before and after LPS stimulation. Transcription factor binding sites in the genes were identified to understand the gene expression regulation. From the expression profile results, most chicken beta-defensins had induced gene expression by LPS stimulation in the early phase (0- to 3-hour) and reduced gene expression in the late phase (3- to 8-hour). As for the level of gene expression, the results show that the induced gene expression in the early phase corresponded to the higher levels of expression at 3-hours after LPS stimulation, and the reduced gene expression in the late phase corresponded to the lower levels of gene expression at 8-hours after LPS stimulation.