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PLoS One. 2018 Oct 19;13(10):e0205875. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0205875. eCollection 2018.

Transcriptomic analysis of the salivary gland of medicinal leech Hirudo nipponia.

Lu Z1,2,3, Shi P1,2, You H1,3, Liu Y1,3, Chen S1,2,3.

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Chongqing Academy of Chinese Materia Medica, Chongqing, China.
Chongqing Sub-center of National Resource Center for Chinese Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Science, Chongqing, China.
Chongqing Key Laboratory of Chinese Medicine Resources, Chongqing, China.


Hirudo nipponia (known as Shui Zhi in Chinese) is a well-known Chinese medicine with numerous active ingredients in its body, especially in its saliva. This native Chinese blood-sucking leech has been used for therapeutic purposes since before 100 AD. Modern Chinese physicians use it for a wide range of diseases. Genomic data and molecular information about the pharmacologically active substances produced by this medicinal leech are presently unavailable despite this organism's medicinal importance. In this study, we performed transcriptome profiling of the salivary glands of medicinal leech H. nipponia using the Illumina platform. In total, 84,657,362 clean reads were assembled into 50,535 unigenes. The obtained unigenes were compared to public databases. Furthermore, a unigene sequence similarity search and comparisons with the whole transcriptome of medical leech were performed to identify potential proteins. Finally, more than 21 genes were predicted to be involved in anticoagulatory, antithrombotic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antitumor processes, which might play important roles in the treatment of various diseases. This study is the first analysis of a sialotranscriptome in H. nipponia. The transcriptome profile will shed light on its genetic background and provide a useful tool to deepen our understanding of the medical value of H. nipponia.

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