High-throughput proteomic profiling of the fish liver following bacterial infection

Dwight R Causey, Moritz A N Pohl, David A Stead, Samuel A M Martin, Christopher J Secombes, Daniel MacQueen (Corresponding Author)

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High-throughput proteomics was used to determine the role of the fish liver in defense responses to bacterial infection. This was done using a rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) model following infection with Aeromonas salmonicida, the causative agent of furunculosis. The vertebrate liver has multifaceted functions in innate immunity, metabolism, and growth; we hypothesize this tissue serves a dual role in supporting host defense in parallel to metabolic adjustments that promote effective immune function. While past studies have reported mRNA responses to A. salmonicida in salmonids, the impact of bacterial infection on the liver proteome remains uncharacterized in fish.

Rainbow trout were injected with A. salmonicida or PBS (control) and liver extracted 48 h later for analysis on a hybrid quadrupole-Orbitrap mass spectrometer. A label-free method was used for protein abundance profiling, which revealed a strong innate immune response along with evidence to support parallel rewiring of metabolic and growth systems. 3076 proteins were initially identified against all proteins (n = 71,293 RefSeq proteins) annotated in a single high-quality rainbow trout reference genome, of which 2433 were maintained for analysis post-quality filtering. Among the 2433 proteins, 109 showed significant differential abundance following A. salmonicida challenge, including many upregulated complement system and acute phase response proteins, in addition to molecules with putative functions that may support metabolic re-adjustments. We also identified novel expansions in the complement system due to gene and whole genome duplication events in salmonid evolutionary history, including eight C3 proteins showing differential changes in abundance.

This study provides the first high-throughput proteomic examination of the fish liver in response to bacterial challenge, revealing novel markers for the host defense response, and evidence of metabolic remodeling in conjunction with activation of innate immunity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number719
Number of pages17
JournalBMC Genomics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • Label-free proteomics
  • Hybrid quadrupole-Orbitrap mass spectrometry
  • Immune System
  • Rainbow trout
  • Aeromonas salmonicida
  • Complement system
  • Complement C3
  • Gene duplication


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