A relatively large repertoire of type I interferon (IFN) genes is apparent in rainbow trout/Atlantic salmon, that includes six different IFN subgroups (IFNa-IFNf) belonging to the three known type I IFN groups (1-3) in bony fish. Whether this is true for other salmonids, and how the various type I subgroups evolved in teleost fish was studied using the extensive genomic resources available for fish. This confirmed that salmonids, at least the Salmoninae, indeed have a complex (in terms of IFN subgroups present) and large (number of genes) IFN repertoire relative to other teleost fish. This is in part a consequence of the salmonid 4R WGD that duplicated the growth hormone (GH) locus in which type I IFNs are generally located. Divergence of the IFN genes at the two GH loci was apparent but was not seen in common carp, a species that also underwent an independent 4R WGD. However, expansion of IFN gene number can be found at the CD79b locus of some perciform fish (both freshwater and marine), with expansion of the IFNd gene repertoire. Curiously the primordial gene order of GH-IFNc-IFNb-IFNa-IFNe is largely retained in many teleost lineages and likely reflects the tandem duplications that are taking place to increase IFN gene number. With respect to the evolution of the IFN subgroups, a complex acquisition and/or loss has occurred in different teleost lineages, with complete loss of IFN genes at the GH or CD79b locus in some species, and reduction to a single IFN subgroup in others. It becomes clear that there are many variations to be discovered regarding the mechanisms by which fish elicit protective (antiviral) immune responses.
- Type I interferon