Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org
The role of the duck as the natural host and reservoir of influenza and efforts to vaccinate ducks during recent outbreaks of avian influenza has renewed interest in the duck antibody response. Ducks have unique antibody structures and expression, with consequences for their function. Aspects of immunoglobulin genetics, gene expression, and antibody function will be reviewed in the context of the duck immune response to influenza. Ducks have three immunoglobulin isotypes, IgM, IgA and IgY in translocon arrangement. The order of heavy chain genes in the locus is unusual, IGHM, IGHA and IGHY, with IGHA in inverse transcriptional orientation. IgH and IgL gene rearrangement in ducks involves limited V, (D) and J element recombination and diversity is generated by gene conversion from pseudogenes. IgY, the functional equivalent of IgG, is produced in two secreted forms, a full-length form and one lacking the third and fourth C region domains, which predominates later in the immune response and lacks the biological effector functions of IgG. The unusual features of duck antibodies may contribute to weak antibody responses and the perpetuation of the virus in this animal reservoir.
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