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Identification of development and tissue-specific gene expression in the fathead minnow Pimephales promelas, Rafinesque using computational and DNA microarray methods

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Abstract:

The fathead minnow Pimephales promelas serves as a model organism for assessing the effects of environmental contaminants on early life stage growth and development. Yet, the utilization of genomic tools has been hindered by the lack of genome sequence and genomic information known from this model species. Utilizing published cDNA library sequences, the authors used sequence similarity to compare 4105 cDNAs isolated from fathead minnow fry (<14 days old) with over 250 000 adult cDNA sequences derived from whole body and various tissue types. The objectives of the computational subtraction were to (1) assess the extent of sequence similarity between developing and adult cDNA libraries and (2) predict which cDNA clones are expressed only in developing organisms. The results of the computational predictions were assessed through the construction of a development-specific DNA microarray targeting all 4105 sequences in the fry cDNA library as well as 56 known mRNAs in P. promelas. Gene expression was determined by comparing total RNA isolated from fry with total RNA isolated from adult samples (whole animal, kidney, liver, brain, ovary and testes). The results showed that 1381 of the targeted fry cDNA sequences (34%) displayed expression across all sample comparisons, and of these, only 166 genes were found to harbour fry-specific expression (i.e. no expression in adult samples). Of note, 69% of the genes computationally predicted to be fry specific were found across all experimental results; yet, only 27% of the computationally predicted fry-specific sequences were experimentally confirmed to be fry specific. An important result was the identification of many novel mRNA sequences specific to the developing minnow, which lack homology with any other known sequence. In addition, the study results included tissue-specific expression in adult samples. These results demonstrate the capabilities and limitations of inter-library sequence comparisons as a predictor of gene activity in non-sequenced organisms and tissues, as well as DNA microarray gene expression studies in non-sequenced organisms.

Keywords: development; early life stages; ecotoxicology; gene expression; genomics

Document Type: Regular Paper

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8649.2008.01889.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Computer and Information Technology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, U.S.A. 2: Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, U.S.A.

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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