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PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e21238. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021238. Epub 2011 Jun 22.

Deep sequencing of ESTs from nacreous and prismatic layer producing tissues and a screen for novel shell formation-related genes in the pearl oyster.

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  • 1Department of Aquatic Bioscience, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan.



Despite its economic importance, we have a limited understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying shell formation in pearl oysters, wherein the calcium carbonate crystals, nacre and prism, are formed in a highly controlled manner. We constructed comprehensive expressed gene profiles in the shell-forming tissues of the pearl oyster Pinctada fucata and identified novel shell formation-related genes candidates.


We employed the GS FLX 454 system and constructed transcriptome data sets from pallial mantle and pearl sac, which form the nacreous layer, and from the mantle edge, which forms the prismatic layer in P. fucata. We sequenced 260477 reads and obtained 29682 unique sequences. We also screened novel nacreous and prismatic gene candidates by a combined analysis of sequence and expression data sets, and identified various genes encoding lectin, protease, protease inhibitors, lysine-rich matrix protein, and secreting calcium-binding proteins. We also examined the expression of known nacreous and prismatic genes in our EST library and identified novel isoforms with tissue-specific expressions.


We constructed EST data sets from the nacre- and prism-producing tissues in P. fucata and found 29682 unique sequences containing novel gene candidates for nacreous and prismatic layer formation. This is the first report of deep sequencing of ESTs in the shell-forming tissues of P. fucata and our data provide a powerful tool for a comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanisms of molluscan biomineralization.

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