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Physiol Genomics. 2013 Jun 17;45(12):462-76. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00026.2013. Epub 2013 Apr 30.

RNA-Seq reveals expression signatures of genes involved in oxygen transport, protein synthesis, folding, and degradation in response to heat stress in catfish.

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The Fish Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures and Program of Cell and Molecular Biosciences, Aquatic Genomics Unit, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA.


Temperature is one of the most prominent abiotic factors affecting ectotherms. Most fish species, as ectotherms, have extraordinary ability to deal with a wide range of temperature changes. While the molecular mechanism underlying temperature adaptation has long been of interest, it is still largely unexplored with fish. Understanding of the fundamental mechanisms conferring tolerance to temperature fluctuations is a topic of increasing interest as temperature may continue to rise as a result of global climate change. Catfish have a wide natural habitat and possess great plasticity in dealing with environmental variations in temperature. However, no studies have been conducted at the transcriptomic level to determine heat stress-induced gene expression. In the present study, we conducted an RNA-Seq analysis to identify heat stress-induced genes in catfish at the transcriptome level. Expression analysis identified a total of 2,260 differentially expressed genes with a cutoff of twofold change. qRT-PCR validation suggested the high reliability of the RNA-Seq results. Gene ontology, enrichment, and pathway analyses were conducted to gain insight into physiological and gene pathways. Specifically, genes involved in oxygen transport, protein folding and degradation, and metabolic process were highly induced, while general protein synthesis was dramatically repressed in response to the lethal temperature stress. This is the first RNA-Seq-based expression study in catfish in response to heat stress. The candidate genes identified should be valuable for further targeted studies on heat tolerance, thereby assisting the development of heat-tolerant catfish lines for aquaculture.


RNA-Seq; catfish; gene expression; gene pathway; genome; heat stress

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