Transcriptome analysis identifies candidate genes associated with skin color variation in Triplophysa siluroides

Yeyu Chen, Quan Gong, Jiansheng Lai, Mingjiang Song, Ya Liu, Yingbin Wu, Jiagui Ai, Zhihai Long
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part D, Genomics & Proteomics 2020 March 28, 35: 100682
In vertebrates, skin pigmentation is the most diverse phenotypic trait, and it is produced by a complex biological process that is often genetically controlled. Recently, two different colors (the typical brown and orange varieties) of Triplophysa siluroides, a species restricted to Yellow River drainage in China, were discovered. In the present study, the skin, brain and liver transcriptomes of T. siluroides of both colors were sequenced to search for genes related to skin pigmentation. Transcriptome sequencing generated 1,484,197,774 clean reads, resulting in a total of 222.6 Gb of sequence. The reads were assembled into 470,788 unigenes with a mean length of 1550 bp and an N50 size of 2944 bp. Functional annotation of the unigene dataset showed that 214,507, 304,161, 112,886, 179,074, 180,064, 184,837 and 82,081 unigenes were significantly matched to entries in the Nr protein, Nt, KO, Swiss-Prot, Pfam, GO and KOG databases, respectively. A differential expression analysis revealed that 2774, 3552 and 1529 unigenes were upregulated and 2720, 2663 and 1103 unigenes were downregulated in the skin, brain and liver of orange-skinned T. siluroides, respectively. Several genes that play key roles in pigmentation, i.e., Agouti, Slc45a2, Cbs, Mift and Slc7a11, showed significantly differential expression between brown and orange fish. In addition, we detected 158,863 simple sequence repeats (SSRs) in the T. siluroides transcriptome, and a total of 201,338 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were discovered in the different transcriptomes. The present results will facilitate further study of the molecular mechanisms of skin pigmentation and marker-assisted breeding of fish with valuable skin colors.

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