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Comp Biochem Physiol Part D Genomics Proteomics. 2012 Dec;7(4):351-60. doi: 10.1016/j.cbd.2012.07.003. Epub 2012 Aug 7.

Transcriptional profiling of the parr-smolt transformation in Atlantic salmon.

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USGS, Leetown Science Center, Kearneysville, WV 25430, USA.


The parr-smolt transformation in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is a complex developmental process that culminates in the ability to migrate to and live in seawater. We used GRASP 16K cDNA microarrays to identify genes that are differentially expressed in the liver, gill, hypothalamus, pituitary, and olfactory rosettes of smolts compared to parr. Smolts had higher levels of gill Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase activity, plasma cortisol and plasma thyroid hormones relative to parr. Across all five tissues, stringent microarray analyses identified 48 features that were differentially expressed in smolts compared to parr. Using a less stringent method we found 477 features that were differentially expressed at least 1.2-fold in smolts, including 172 features in the gill. Smolts had higher mRNA levels of genes involved in transcription, protein biosynthesis and folding, electron transport, oxygen transport, and sensory perception and lower mRNA levels for genes involved in proteolysis. Quantitative RT-PCR was used to confirm differential expression in select genes identified by microarray analyses and to quantify expression of other genes known to be involved in smolting. This study expands our understanding of the molecular processes that underlie smolting in Atlantic salmon and identifies genes for further investigation.

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