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Journal: Marine biotechnology (New York, N.Y.)


The nematocyst is one of the most complex intracellular structures found in nature and is the defining feature of the phylum Cnidaria (sea anemones, corals, jellyfish, and hydroids). This miniature stinging organelle contains and delivers venom into prey and foe yet little is known about its toxic components. In the present study, we identified by tandem mass spectrometry 20 proteins released upon discharge from the nematocyst of the model sea anemone Nematostella vectensis. The availability of genomic and transcriptomic data for this species enabled accurate identification and phylogenetic study of these components. Fourteen of these proteins could not be identified in other animals suggesting that they might be the products of taxonomically restricted genes, a finding which fits well their origin from a taxon-specific organelle. Further, we studied by in situ hybridization the localization of two of the transcripts encoding the putative nematocyst venom proteins: a metallopeptidase related to the Tolloid family and a cysteine-rich protein. Both transcripts were detected in nematocytes, which are the cells containing nematocysts, and the metallopeptidase was found also in pharyngeal gland cells. Our findings reveal for the first time the possible venom components of a sea anemone nematocyst and suggest their evolutionary origins.

Concepts: Gene, Animal, Coral, Cnidaria, Jellyfish, Anthozoa, Sea anemone, Cnidocyte


Dojo loach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus) is an air-breathing fish species by using its posterior intestine to breathe on water surface. So far, the molecular mechanism about accessory air-breathing in fish is seldom addressed. Five cDNA libraries were constructed here for loach posterior intestines form T01 (the initial stage group), T02 (mid-stage of normal group), T03 (end stage of normal group), T04 (mid-stage of air-breathing inhibited group), and T05 (the end stage of air-breathing inhibited group) and subjected to perform RNA-seq to compare their transcriptomic profilings. A total of 92,962 unigenes were assembled, while 37,905 (40.77 %) unigenes were successfully annotated. 2298, 1091, and 3275 differentially expressed genes (fn1, ACE, EGFR, Pxdn, SDF, HIF, VEGF, SLC2A1, SLC5A8 etc.) were observed in T04/T02, T05/T03, and T05/T04, respectively. Expression levels of many genes associated with air-breathing and nutrient uptake varied significantly between normal and intestinal air-breathing inhibited group. Intraepithelial capillaries in posterior intestines of loaches from T05 were broken, while red blood cells were enriched at the surface of intestinal epithelial lining with 241 ± 39 cells per millimeter. There were periodic acid-schiff (PAS)-positive epithelial mucous cells in posterior intestines from both normal and air-breathing inhibited groups. Results obtained here suggested an overlap of air-breathing and nutrient uptake function of posterior intestine in loach. Intestinal air-breathing inhibition in loach would influence the posterior intestine’s nutrient uptake ability and endothelial capillary structure stability. This study will contribute to our understanding on the molecular regulatory mechanisms of intestinal air-breathing in loach.

Concepts: DNA, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Bacteria, Molecular biology, Intestine, Cobitidae, Misgurnus


The selenium (Se)-containing antioxidant selenoneine (2-selenyl-N α,N α,N α-trimethyl-L-histidine) has recently been discovered to be the predominant form of organic Se in tuna blood. Although dietary intake of fish Se has been suggested to reduce methylmercury (MeHg) toxicity, the molecular mechanism of MeHg detoxification by Se has not yet been determined. Here, we report evidence that selenoneine accelerates the excretion and demethylation of MeHg, mediated by a selenoneine-specific transporter, organic cations/carnitine transporter-1 (OCTN1). Selenoneine was incorporated into human embryonic kidney HEK293 cells transiently overexpressing OCTN1 and zebrafish blood cells by OCTN1. The K m for selenoneine uptake was 13.0 μM in OCTN1-overexpressing HEK293 cells and 9.5 μM in zebrafish blood cells, indicating high affinity of OCTN1 for selenoneine in human and zebrafish cells. When such OCTN1-expressing cells and embryos were exposed to MeHg-cysteine (MeHgCys), MeHg accumulation was decreased and the excretion and demethylation of MeHg were enhanced by selenoneine. In addition, exosomal secretion vesicles were detected in the culture water of embryos that had been microinjected with MeHgCys, suggesting that these may be responsible for MeHg excretion and demethylation. In contrast, OCTN1-deficient embryos accumulated MeHg, and MeHg excretion and demethylation were decreased. Furthermore, Hg accumulation was decreased in OCTN1-overexpressing HEK293 cells, but not in mock vector-transfected cells, indicating that selenoneine and OCTN1 can regulate MeHg detoxification in human cells. Thus, the selenoneine-mediated OCTN1 system regulates secretory lysosomal vesicle formation and MeHg demethylation.

Concepts: Cell, Embryo, Golgi apparatus, Secretion, Endoplasmic reticulum, Lysosome, Vesicle, Selenium


Tiger puffer Takifugu rubripes is one of the most valuable fish species in Japan; however, there has not been much progress in their selective breeding until recently despite their potential in aquaculture. Their long generation time and the large body size of their broodstock make breeding difficult. Recently, we made a surrogate broodstock, which produced gametes of different species in salmonids. Therefore, by using closely related recipients, which have small body sizes and short generation times, it is possible to accelerate breeding of the tiger puffer. Thus, we considered the grass puffer Takifugu niphobles, which has a short generation time and a small maturation size, as a potential recipient for gamete production of the tiger puffer. Furthermore, if sterile triploid individuals are used as recipients, the resulting surrogate broodstock would produce only donor-derived gametes. Therefore, we examined conditions for inducing triploidy by suppressing meiosis II to retain the second polar body in grass puffer. We found that cold shock treatment, which is 5°C for 30 min starting from 5 min after fertilization, is optimal to obtain high triploidization and hatching rates. Although the resulting triploid grass puffers produced small amounts of gametes in both sexes, the offspring derived from the gametes could not live for over 3 days. Furthermore, we found that triploid grass puffer showed normal plasma sex steroid levels compared with diploids. These are important characteristics of triploid grass puffer as surrogate recipients used for germ cell transplantation.

Concepts: Species, Sex, Reproductive system, Meiosis, Polyploidy, Gamete, Germ cells, Hybrid


Astaxanthin (Ax), the main carotenoid responsible for the distinct red flesh color in salmonids (Oncorhynchus, Salvelinus, Salmo, and Parahucho), is added to the diet of farmed fish at a substantial cost. Despite the great economical value for the salmon industry, the key molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of muscle coloration are poorly understood. Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) represent an ideal model to study flesh coloration because they exhibit a distinct color polymorphism responsible for two color morphs, white and red flesh pigmented fish. This study was designed to identify the molecular basis for the development of red and white coloration of fish reared under the same experimental conditions and to better understand the absorption mechanism of Ax in salmonids. Pyloric caeca, liver, and muscle of both groups (n = 6 each) were selected as the most likely critical target organs to be involved respectively in the intestinal uptake, metabolism, and retention of Ax. Difference in the transcriptome profile of each tissue using next-generation sequencing technology was conducted. Ten KEGG pathways were significantly enriched for differentially expressed genes between red and white salmon pylorus tissue, while none for the transcriptome profile in the other two tissues. Differential expressed gene (DE) analyses showed that there were relatively few differences in muscle (31 DE genes, p < 0.05) and liver (43 DE genes, p < 0.05) of white and red Chinook salmon compared approximately 1125 DE genes characterized in the pylorus tissue, with several linked to Ax binding ability, absorption, and metabolism.


The Pacific white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei is one of the major economic aquaculture species. The growth trait is considered as the most important trait in L. vannamei aquaculture. Identification of the genetic components underlying growth-related traits in L. vannamei could be useful for the selective breeding of growth trait. Our previous work identified several growth-related SNPs by genome-wide association study (GWAS). Based on the assembled genome, we identified a new candidate gene (LvMMD2) beside the associated marker. This gene encodes the progestin and AdipoQ receptor 10 (PAQR10) protein. We further investigate the polymorphisms of LvMMD2 and their association with body weight of L. vannamei. By resequencing the coding region of LvMMD2, a total of 8 SNPs were identified, including 6 synonymous mutations and 2 nonsynonymous mutations. Association analyses based on a population of 322 individuals revealed that several SNPs located in the coding region of LvMMD2 were significantly associated with the body weight, especially the nonsynonymous mutation named as MMD_5 contributed the most association to the trait and it could explain 10.5% of phenotypic variance. In addition, several genes involved in growth and development have been identified as LvMMD2-interacting genes. These findings strongly suggested that LvMMD2 might be an important gene regulating the shrimp growth. More importantly, the MMD_5 could be a promising candidate locus for marker-assisted selection (MAS) of the body weight in L. vannamei.


The purpose of this study was to express an antimicrobial peptide in the chloroplast to further develop the plastid engineering of H. pluvialis. Homologous targeting of the 16S-trnI/trnA-23S region and four endogenous regulatory elements, including the psbA promoter, rbcL promoter, rbcL terminator, and psbA terminator in H. pluvialis, were performed to construct a chloroplast transformation vector for H. pluvialis. The expression of codon-optimized antimicrobial peptide piscidin-4 gene (ant1) and selection marker gene (bar, biolaphos resistance gene) in the chloroplast of H. pluvialis was controlled by the rbcL promoter and psbA promoter, respectively. Upon biolistic transformation and selection with phosphinothricin, integration and expression of ant1 in the chloroplast genome were detected using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), southern blotting, and western blotting. Using this method, we successfully expressed antimicrobial peptide piscidin-4 in H. pluvialis. Hence, our results showed H. pluvialis promises as a platform for expressing recombinant proteins for biotechnological applications, which will further contribute to promoting genetic engineering improvement of this strain.


The amazing colors and patterns are fascinating characteristics in all of the aquarium species. However, genetic and breeding molecular investigations of ornamental shrimps are rather limited. Here, we present the first transcriptomic analysis and application of microsatellites based on the chromatophore-encoded genes of Neocaridina denticulata to assist freshwater ornamental shrimp germplasm enhancement and its extensive applications. A total of 65,402 unigenes were annotated, and 4706 differentially expressed genes were screened and identified between super red shrimp and chocolate shrimp strains. Several gene ratios were examined to put in perspective possible genetic markers for the different strains of normal pigmentation development, including flotillin-2-like, keratin, the G protein-coupled receptor Mth2-like, annexin A7, and unconventional myosin-IXb-like. Five simple sequence repeat markers were effective for colored shrimps and were used to develop a marker-assisted selection platform for systematic breeding management program to maintain genetic diversity of the species. These markers could also be used to assist the identification of pure strains and increase the genetic stability of ornamental shrimp color phenotypes. Consequently, our results of microsatellite marker development are valuable for assisting shrimp genetic and selection breeding studies on freshwater ornamental shrimp and related crystal shrimp species.


The simultaneous quantification of several transcripts via multiplex PCR can accelerate research in fish physiological responses to diet and enable the development of superior aquafeeds for farmed fish. We designed two multiplex PCR panels that included assays for 40 biomarker genes representing key aspects of fish physiology (growth, metabolism, oxidative stress, and inflammation) and 3 normalizer genes. We used both panels to assess the physiological effects of replacing fish meal and fish oil by terrestrial alternatives on Atlantic salmon smolts. In a 14-week trial, we tested three diets based on marine ingredients (MAR), animal by-products and vegetable oil (ABP), and plant protein and vegetable oil (VEG). Dietary treatments affected the expression of genes involved in hepatic glucose and lipid metabolism (e.g., srebp1, elovl2), cell redox status (e.g., txna, prdx1b), and inflammation (e.g., pgds, 5loxa). At the multivariate level, gene expression profiles were more divergent between fish fed the marine and terrestrial diets (MAR vs. ABP/VEG) than between the two terrestrial diets (ABP vs. VEG). Liver ARA was inversely related to glucose metabolism (gck)- and growth (igfbp-5b1, htra1b)-related biomarkers and hepatosomatic index. Liver DHA and EPA levels correlated negatively with elovl2, whereas ARA levels correlated positively with fadsd5. Lower hepatic EPA/ARA in ABP-fed fish correlated with the increased expression of biomarkers related to mitochondrial function (fabp3a), oxidative stress (txna, prdx1b), and inflammation (pgds, 5loxa). The analysis of hepatic biomarker gene expression via multiplex PCR revealed potential physiological impacts and nutrient-gene interactions in Atlantic salmon fed lower levels of marine-sourced nutrients.


Oncorhynchus masou, including subspecies of Oncorhynchus masou masou (yamame) and Oncorhynchus masou ishikawae (amago), is one of the salmonid groups impacted by human activity such as dam construction and release of non-native salmonids. In this study, we investigated the genetic structure of O. masou populations in the Sakawa and Sagami Rivers, Japan, by sequencing the mitochondrial control region. We hoped to identify genetically the O. masou populations specific to and originally native to Kanagawa Prefecture, where the two subspecies are thought to be present. The populations found in the upstream tributaries, where there has been no human impact and no upstream migration of fishes, were assumed to be descendants of the local O. masou populations in both river systems, and the morphological features seen here were similar to amago and yamame. However, both populations were genetically related to amago. In addition, only six haplotypes were detected in 315 individuals collected from 20 localities in the two river systems. Furthermore, haplotype diversity and nucleotide diversity of these populations were low, and high FST values were observed. These results suggest that the population size is restricted and genetic diversity is decreasing in the O. masou populations of the Sakawa and Sagami Rivers.