Research ArticleIMMUNOLOGY

Antigen receptor repertoires of one of the smallest known vertebrates

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Science Advances  01 Jan 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 1, eabd8180
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd8180


The rules underlying the structure of antigen receptor repertoires are not yet fully defined, despite their enormous importance for the understanding of adaptive immunity. With current technology, the large antigen receptor repertoires of mice and humans cannot be comprehensively studied. To circumvent the problems associated with incomplete sampling, we have studied the immunogenetic features of one of the smallest known vertebrates, the cyprinid fish Paedocypris sp. “Singkep” (“minifish”). Despite its small size, minifish has the key genetic facilities characterizing the principal vertebrate lymphocyte lineages. As described for mammals, the frequency distributions of immunoglobulin and T cell receptor clonotypes exhibit the features of fractal systems, demonstrating that self-similarity is a fundamental property of antigen receptor repertoires of vertebrates, irrespective of body size. Hence, minifish achieve immunocompetence via a few thousand lymphocytes organized in robust scale-free networks, thereby ensuring immune reactivity even when cells are lost or clone sizes fluctuate during immune responses.

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