Congerin is a β-galactoside binding lectin (galectin) purified from the skin mucus of the Japanese conger, Conger myriaster. To clarify its tissue distribution and productive cells, several tissue samples including skin, buccal cavity wall, tang, pharynx, gills, esophagus, stomach, intestine, liver, kidney, spleen and ovary of conger were stained immunohistochemically using polyclonal rabbit anti-congerin serum. In the epidermis, a number of club cells were strongly stained. Because no agglutinating activity was detected in plasma, it appears evident that congerin is produced and secreted into mucus by those cells. In addition, congerin-positive club cells were distributed in the mucosal epithelium lining the digestive tract preceding the stomach and in the gills. These findings suggest that congerin participates in innate immunity on the intra- and the extra-body surface of the conger. The putative functions of club cells in fish and their contained lectin are discussed.
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