The bursa of Fabricius (BF) is the acknowledged central humoural immune organ unique to birds and plays a vital role in B lymphocyte development. In addition, the unique molecular immune features of bursal-derived biological peptides involved in B cell development are rarely reported. In this paper, a novel bursal heptapeptide (BP7) with the sequence GGCDGAA was isolated from the BF and was shown to enhance the monoclonal antibody production of a hybridoma. A mouse immunization experiment showed that mice immunized with an AIV antigen and BP7 produced strong antibody responses and cell-mediated immune responses. Additionally, BP7 stimulated increased mRNA levels of sIgM in immature mouse WEHI-231 B cells. Gene microarray results confirmed that BP7 regulated 2465 differentially expressed genes in BP7-Treated WEHI-231 cells and induced 13 signalling pathways and various immune-related functional processes. Furthermore, we found that BP7 stimulated WEHI-231 cell autophagy and AMPK-ULK1 phosphorylation and regulated Bcl-2 protein expression. Finally, chicken immunization showed that BP7 enhanced the potential antibody and cytokine responses to the AIV antigen. These results suggested that BP7 might be an active biological factor that functions as a potential immunopotentiator, which provided some novel insights into the molecular mechanisms of the effects of bursal peptides on immune functions and B cell differentiation.
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