Four tropical marine fish cell lines have been established from the eye, fin, heart and swim bladder of grouper, Epinephelus awoara (Temminck & Schlegel). Optimum media and temperature conditions for maximum growth were standardized. The eye and swim bladder cells were mostly epithelial, but the fin and heart cells were mostly fibroblastic. The viability of cells was 95% after 1 year of storage in liquid nitrogen (-196°C). Besides these four cell lines, previously established grouper brain, kidney and liver cell lines were also used for a viral susceptibility study which showed that all the cell lines were sensitive to grouper iridovirus, whereas only brain, fin and liver cell lines were susceptible to the yellow grouper nervous necrosis virus (a nodavirus). Electron microscopy studies of the grouper irido- and nodaviruses in ultrathin sections of infected cells showed an abundance of viral particles in the cytoplasm of the virus-infected cells indicating the effective replication of these two viruses. It is suggested that these cell lines can be used for the isolation of putative fish specific viruses and provide a valuable tool to study the mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions. Furthermore, these cell lines upon transfection, using pEGFP-C1 and pEGFP-aMT2.5 (ayu metallothionein promoter), produced significant fluorescent signals indicating their utility for exogenous studies.
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