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1.  Transcriptome sequencing and microarray design for functional genomics in the extremophile Arabidopsis relative Thellungiella salsuginea (Eutrema salsugineum) 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:793.
Background
Most molecular studies of plant stress tolerance have been performed with Arabidopsis thaliana, although it is not particularly stress tolerant and may lack protective mechanisms required to survive extreme environmental conditions. Thellungiella salsuginea has attracted interest as an alternative plant model species with high tolerance of various abiotic stresses. While the T. salsuginea genome has recently been sequenced, its annotation is still incomplete and transcriptomic information is scarce. In addition, functional genomics investigations in this species are severely hampered by a lack of affordable tools for genome-wide gene expression studies.
Results
Here, we report the results of Thellungiella de novo transcriptome assembly and annotation based on 454 pyrosequencing and development and validation of a T. salsuginea microarray. ESTs were generated from a non-normalized and a normalized library synthesized from RNA pooled from samples covering different tissues and abiotic stress conditions. Both libraries yielded partially unique sequences, indicating their necessity to obtain comprehensive transcriptome coverage. More than 1 million sequence reads were assembled into 42,810 unigenes, approximately 50% of which could be functionally annotated. These unigenes were compared to all available Thellungiella genome sequence information. In addition, the groups of Late Embryogenesis Abundant (LEA) proteins, Mitogen Activated Protein (MAP) kinases and protein phosphatases were annotated in detail. We also predicted the target genes for 384 putative miRNAs. From the sequence information, we constructed a 44 k Agilent oligonucleotide microarray. Comparison of same-species and cross-species hybridization results showed superior performance of the newly designed array for T. salsuginea samples. The developed microarrays were used to investigate transcriptional responses of T. salsuginea and Arabidopsis during cold acclimation using the MapMan software.
Conclusions
This study provides the first comprehensive transcriptome information for the extremophile Arabidopsis relative T. salsuginea. The data constitute a more than three-fold increase in the number of publicly available unigene sequences and will greatly facilitate genome annotation. In addition, we have designed and validated the first genome-wide microarray for T. salsuginea, which will be commercially available. Together with the publicly available MapMan software this will become an important tool for functional genomics of plant stress tolerance.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-793
PMCID: PMC3832907  PMID: 24228715
Arabidopsis thaliana; Cold acclimation; Gene annotation; LEA proteins; MAP kinases; Microarray design; microRNAs; Protein phosphatases; Thellungiella salsuginea; Transcriptome sequencing
2.  mRNA-Seq and microarray development for the Grooved carpet shell clam, Ruditapes decussatus: a functional approach to unravel host -parasite interaction 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:741.
Background
The Grooved Carpet shell clam Ruditapes decussatus is the autochthonous European clam and the most appreciated from a gastronomic and economic point of view. The production is in decline due to several factors such as Perkinsiosis and habitat invasion and competition by the introduced exotic species, the manila clam Ruditapes philippinarum. After we sequenced R. decussatus transcriptome we have designed an oligo microarray capable of contributing to provide some clues on molecular response of the clam to Perkinsiosis.
Results
A database consisting of 41,119 unique transcripts was constructed, of which 12,479 (30.3%) were annotated by similarity. An oligo-DNA microarray platform was then designed and applied to profile gene expression in R. decussatus heavily infected by Perkinsus olseni. Functional annotation of differentially expressed genes between those two conditionswas performed by gene set enrichment analysis. As expected, microarrays unveil genes related with stress/infectious agents such as hydrolases, proteases and others. The extensive role of innate immune system was also analyzed and effect of parasitosis upon expression of important molecules such as lectins reviewed.
Conclusions
This study represents a first attempt to characterize Ruditapes decussatus transcriptome, an important marine resource for the European aquaculture. The trancriptome sequencing and consequent annotation will increase the available tools and resources for this specie, introducing the possibility of high throughput experiments such as microarrays analysis. In this specific case microarray approach was used to unveil some important aspects of host-parasite interaction between the Carpet shell clam and Perkinsus, two non-model species, highlighting some genes associated with this interaction. Ample information was obtained to identify biological processes significantly enriched among differentially expressed genes in Perkinsus infected versus non-infected gills. An overview on the genes related with the immune system on R. decussatus transcriptome is also reported.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-741
PMCID: PMC4007648  PMID: 24168212
3.  Maternal 3’UTRs: from egg to onset of zygotic transcription in Atlantic cod 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:443.
Background
Zygotic transcription in fish embryos initiates around the time of gastrulation, and all prior development is initiated and controlled by maternally derived messenger RNAs. Atlantic cod egg and embryo viability is variable, and it is hypothesized that the early development depends upon the feature of these maternal RNAs. Both the length and the presence of specific motifs in the 3’UTR of maternal RNAs are believed to regulate expression and stability of the maternal transcripts. Therefore, the aim of this study was to characterize the overall composition and 3’UTR structure of the most common maternal RNAs found in cod eggs and pre-zygotic embryos.
Results
22229 Sanger-sequences were obtained from 3’-end sequenced cDNA libraries prepared from oocyte, 1-2 cell, blastula and gastrula stages. Quantitative PCR revealed that EST copy number below 9 did not reflect the gene expression profile. Consequently genes represented by less than 9 ESTs were excluded from downstream analyses, in addition to sequences with low-quality gene hits. This provided 12764 EST sequences, encoding 257 unique genes, for further analysis. Mitochondrial transcripts accounted for 45.9-50.6% of the transcripts isolated from the maternal stages, but only 12.2% of those present at the onset of zygotic transcription. 3’UTR length was predicted in nuclear sequences with poly-A tail, which identified 191 3’UTRs. Their characteristics indicated a more complex regulation of transcripts that are abundant prior to the onset of zygotic transcription. Maternal and stable transcripts had longer 3’UTR (mean 187.1 and 208.8 bp) and more 3’UTR isoforms (45.7 and 34.6%) compared to zygotic transcripts, where 15.4% had 3’UTR isoforms and the mean 3’UTR length was 76 bp. Also, diversity and the amount of putative polyadenylation motifs were higher in both maternal and stable transcripts.
Conclusions
We report on the most pronounced processes in the maternally transferred cod transcriptome. Maternal stages are characterized by a rich abundance of mitochondrial transcripts. Maternal and stable transcripts display longer 3'UTRs with more variation of both polyadenylation motifs and 3'UTR isoforms. These data suggest that cod eggs possess a complex array of maternal RNAs which likely act to tightly regulate early developmental processes in the newly fertilized egg.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-443
PMCID: PMC3462720  PMID: 22937762
3’UTR; Sequence/EST filtering; External spiking; Transcriptome; Teleost; Embryonic development
4.  High-throughput polymorphism detection and genotyping in Brassica napus using next-generation RAD sequencing 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:281.
Background
The complex genome of rapeseed (Brassica napus) is not well understood despite the economic importance of the species. Good knowledge of sequence variation is needed for genetics approaches and breeding purposes. We used a diversity set of B. napus representing eight different germplasm types to sequence genome-wide distributed restriction-site associated DNA (RAD) fragments for polymorphism detection and genotyping.
Results
More than 113,000 RAD clusters with more than 20,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 125 insertions/deletions were detected and characterized. About one third of the RAD clusters and polymorphisms mapped to the Brassica rapa reference sequence. An even distribution of RAD clusters and polymorphisms was observed across the B. rapa chromosomes, which suggests that there might be an equal distribution over the Brassica oleracea chromosomes, too. The representation of Gene Ontology (GO) terms for unigenes with RAD clusters and polymorphisms revealed no signature of selection with respect to the distribution of polymorphisms within genes belonging to a specific GO category.
Conclusions
Considering the decreasing costs for next-generation sequencing, the results of our study suggest that RAD sequencing is not only a simple and cost-effective method for high-density polymorphism detection but also an alternative to SNP genotyping from transcriptome sequencing or SNP arrays, even for species with complex genomes such as B. napus.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-281
PMCID: PMC3442993  PMID: 22726880
Brassica napus; Restriction-site associated DNA; Next-generation sequencing; Single nucleotide polymorphism; Genotyping by sequencing; Genetic diversity
5.  Transcriptome sequencing and microarray development for the Manila clam, Ruditapes philippinarum: genomic tools for environmental monitoring 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:234.
Background
The Manila clam, Ruditapes philippinarum, is one of the major aquaculture species in the world and a potential sentinel organism for monitoring the status of marine ecosystems. However, genomic resources for R. philippinarum are still extremely limited. Global analysis of gene expression profiles is increasingly used to evaluate the biological effects of various environmental stressors on aquatic animals under either artificial conditions or in the wild. Here, we report on the development of a transcriptomic platform for global gene expression profiling in the Manila clam.
Results
A normalized cDNA library representing a mixture of adult tissues was sequenced using a ultra high-throughput sequencing technology (Roche 454). A database consisting of 32,606 unique transcripts was constructed, 9,747 (30%) of which could be annotated by similarity. An oligo-DNA microarray platform was designed and applied to profile gene expression of digestive gland and gills. Functional annotation of differentially expressed genes between different tissues was performed by enrichment analysis. Expression of Natural Antisense Transcripts (NAT) analysis was also performed and bi-directional transcription appears a common phenomenon in the R. philippinarum transcriptome. A preliminary study on clam samples collected in a highly polluted area of the Venice Lagoon demonstrated the applicability of genomic tools to environmental monitoring.
Conclusions
The transcriptomic platform developed for the Manila clam confirmed the high level of reproducibility of current microarray technology. Next-generation sequencing provided a good representation of the clam transcriptome. Despite the known limitations in transcript annotation and sequence coverage for non model species, sufficient information was obtained to identify a large set of genes potentially involved in cellular response to environmental stress.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-234
PMCID: PMC3107815  PMID: 21569398
6.  A second generation genetic map of the bumblebee Bombus terrestris (Linnaeus, 1758) reveals slow genome and chromosome evolution in the Apidae 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:48.
Background
The bumblebee Bombus terrestris is an ecologically and economically important pollinator and has become an important biological model system. To study fundamental evolutionary questions at the genomic level, a high resolution genetic linkage map is an essential tool for analyses ranging from quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping to genome assembly and comparative genomics. We here present a saturated linkage map and match it with the Apis mellifera genome using homologous markers. This genome-wide comparison allows insights into structural conservations and rearrangements and thus the evolution on a chromosomal level.
Results
The high density linkage map covers ~ 93% of the B. terrestris genome on 18 linkage groups (LGs) and has a length of 2'047 cM with an average marker distance of 4.02 cM. Based on a genome size of ~ 430 Mb, the recombination rate estimate is 4.76 cM/Mb. Sequence homologies of 242 homologous markers allowed to match 15 B. terrestris with A. mellifera LGs, five of them as composites. Comparing marker orders between both genomes we detect over 14% of the genome to be organized in synteny and 21% in rearranged blocks on the same homologous LG.
Conclusions
This study demonstrates that, despite the very high recombination rates of both A. mellifera and B. terrestris and a long divergence time of about 100 million years, the genomes' genetic architecture is highly conserved. This reflects a slow genome evolution in these bees. We show that data on genome organization and conserved molecular markers can be used as a powerful tool for comparative genomics and evolutionary studies, opening up new avenues of research in the Apidae.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-48
PMCID: PMC3034698  PMID: 21247459
7.  Gill transcriptome response to changes in environmental calcium in the green spotted puffer fish 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:476.
Background
Calcium ion is tightly regulated in body fluids and for euryhaline fish, which are exposed to rapid changes in environmental [Ca2+], homeostasis is especially challenging. The gill is the main organ of active calcium uptake and therefore plays a crucial role in the maintenance of calcium ion homeostasis. To study the molecular basis of the short-term responses to changing calcium availability, the whole gill transcriptome obtained by Super Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SuperSAGE) of the euryhaline teleost green spotted puffer fish, Tetraodon nigroviridis, exposed to water with altered [Ca2+] was analysed.
Results
Transfer of T. nigroviridis from 10 ppt water salinity containing 2.9 mM Ca2+ to high (10 mM Ca2+ ) and low (0.01 mM Ca2+) calcium water of similar salinity for 2-12 h resulted in 1,339 differentially expressed SuperSAGE tags (26-bp transcript identifiers) in gills. Of these 869 tags (65%) were mapped to T. nigroviridis cDNAs or genomic DNA and 497 (57%) were assigned to known proteins. Thirteen percent of the genes matched multiple tags indicating alternative RNA transcripts. The main enriched gene ontology groups belong to Ca2+ signaling/homeostasis but also muscle contraction, cytoskeleton, energy production/homeostasis and tissue remodeling. K-means clustering identified co-expressed transcripts with distinct patterns in response to water [Ca2+] and exposure time.
Conclusions
The generated transcript expression patterns provide a framework of novel water calcium-responsive genes in the gill during the initial response after transfer to different [Ca2+]. This molecular response entails initial perception of alterations, activation of signaling networks and effectors and suggests active remodeling of cytoskeletal proteins during the initial acclimation process. Genes related to energy production and energy homeostasis are also up-regulated, probably reflecting the increased energetic needs of the acclimation response. This study is the first genome-wide transcriptome analysis of fish gills and is an important resource for future research on the short-term mechanisms involved in the gill acclimation responses to environmental Ca2+ changes and osmoregulation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-476
PMCID: PMC3091672  PMID: 20716350
8.  Genome comparison of the epiphytic bacteria Erwinia billingiae and E. tasmaniensis with the pear pathogen E. pyrifoliae 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:393.
Background
The genus Erwinia includes plant-associated pathogenic and non-pathogenic Enterobacteria. Important pathogens such as Erwinia amylovora, the causative agent of fire blight and E. pyrifoliae causing bacterial shoot blight of pear in Asia belong to this genus. The species E. tasmaniensis and E. billingiae are epiphytic bacteria and may represent antagonists for biocontrol of fire blight. The presence of genes that are putatively involved in virulence in E. amylovora and E. pyrifoliae is of special interest for these species in consequence.
Results
Here we provide the complete genome sequences of the pathogenic E. pyrifoliae strain Ep1/96 with a size of 4.1 Mb and of the non-pathogenic species E. billingiae strain Eb661 with a size of 5.4 Mb, de novo determined by conventional Sanger sequencing and next generation sequencing techniques. Genome comparison reveals large inversions resulting from homologous recombination events. Furthermore, comparison of deduced proteins highlights a relation of E. billingiae strain Eb661 to E. tasmaniensis strain Et1/99 and a distance to E. pyrifoliae for the overall gene content as well as for the presence of encoded proteins representing virulence factors for the pathogenic species. Pathogenicity of E. pyrifoliae is supposed to have evolved by accumulation of potential virulence factors. E. pyrifoliae carries factors for type III secretion and cell invasion. Other genes described as virulence factors for E. amylovora are involved in the production of exopolysaccharides, the utilization of plant metabolites such as sorbitol and sucrose. Some virulence-associated genes of the pathogenic species are present in E. tasmaniensis but mostly absent in E. billingiae.
Conclusion
The data of the genome analyses correspond to the pathogenic lifestyle of E. pyrifoliae and underlines the epiphytic localization of E. tasmaniensis and E. billingiae as a saprophyte.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-393
PMCID: PMC2897811  PMID: 20565991
9.  Development of an oligo DNA microarray for the European sea bass and its application to expression profiling of jaw deformity 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:354.
Background
The European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) is a marine fish of great importance for fisheries and aquaculture. Functional genomics offers the possibility to discover the molecular mechanisms underlying productive traits in farmed fish, and a step towards the application of marker assisted selection methods in this species. To this end, we report here on the development of an oligo DNA microarray for D. labrax.
Results
A database consisting of 19,048 unique transcripts was constructed, of which 12,008 (63%) could be annotated by similarity and 4,692 received a GO functional annotation. Two non-overlapping 60mer probes were designed for each unique transcript and in-situ synthesized on glass slides using Agilent SurePrint™ technology. Probe design was positively completed for 19,035 target clusters; the oligo microarray was then applied to profile gene expression in mandibles and whole-heads of fish affected by prognathism, a skeletal malformation that strongly affects sea bass production. Statistical analysis identified 242 transcripts that are significantly down-regulated in deformed individuals compared to normal fish, with a significant enrichment in genes related to nervous system development and functioning. A set of genes spanning a wide dynamic range in gene expression level were selected for quantitative RT-PCR validation. Fold change correlation between microarray and qPCR data was always significant.
Conclusions
The microarray platform developed for the European sea bass has a high level of flexibility, reliability, and reproducibility. Despite the well known limitations in achieving a proper functional annotation in non-model species, sufficient information was obtained to identify biological processes that are significantly enriched among differentially expressed genes. New insights were obtained on putative mechanisms involved on mandibular prognathism, suggesting that bone/nervous system development might play a role in this phenomenon.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-354
PMCID: PMC2889902  PMID: 20525278
10.  Analysis of a normalised expressed sequence tag (EST) library from a key pollinator, the bumblebee Bombus terrestris 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:110.
Background
The bumblebee, Bombus terrestris (Order Hymenoptera), is of widespread importance. This species is extensively used for commercial pollination in Europe, and along with other Bombus spp. is a key member of natural pollinator assemblages. Furthermore, the species is studied in a wide variety of biological fields. The objective of this project was to create a B. terrestris EST resource that will prove to be valuable in obtaining a deeper understanding of this significant social insect.
Results
A normalised cDNA library was constructed from the thorax and abdomen of B. terrestris workers in order to enhance the discovery of rare genes. A total of 29'428 ESTs were sequenced. Subsequent clustering resulted in 13'333 unique sequences. Of these, 58.8 percent had significant similarities to known proteins, with 54.5 percent having a "best-hit" to existing Hymenoptera sequences. Comparisons with the honeybee and other insects allowed the identification of potential candidates for gene loss, pseudogene evolution, and possible incomplete annotation in the honeybee genome. Further, given the focus of much basic research and the perceived threat of disease to natural and commercial populations, the immune system of bumblebees is a particularly relevant component. Although the library is derived from unchallenged bees, we still uncover transcription of a number of immune genes spanning the principally described insect immune pathways. Additionally, the EST library provides a resource for the discovery of genetic markers that can be used in population level studies. Indeed, initial screens identified 589 simple sequence repeats and 854 potential single nucleotide polymorphisms.
Conclusion
The resource that these B. terrestris ESTs represent is valuable for ongoing work. The ESTs provide direct evidence of transcriptionally active regions, but they will also facilitate further functional genomics, gene discovery and future genome annotation. These are important aspects in obtaining a greater understanding of this key pollinator species.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-110
PMCID: PMC2838840  PMID: 20156341
11.  The European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax genome puzzle: comparative BAC-mapping and low coverage shotgun sequencing 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:68.
Background
Food supply from the ocean is constrained by the shortage of domesticated and selected fish. Development of genomic models of economically important fishes should assist with the removal of this bottleneck. European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax L. (Moronidae, Perciformes, Teleostei) is one of the most important fishes in European marine aquaculture; growing genomic resources put it on its way to serve as an economic model.
Results
End sequencing of a sea bass genomic BAC-library enabled the comparative mapping of the sea bass genome using the three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus genome as a reference. BAC-end sequences (102,690) were aligned to the stickleback genome. The number of mappable BACs was improved using a two-fold coverage WGS dataset of sea bass resulting in a comparative BAC-map covering 87% of stickleback chromosomes with 588 BAC-contigs. The minimum size of 83 contigs covering 50% of the reference was 1.2 Mbp; the largest BAC-contig comprised 8.86 Mbp. More than 22,000 BAC-clones aligned with both ends to the reference genome. Intra-chromosomal rearrangements between sea bass and stickleback were identified. Size distributions of mapped BACs were used to calculate that the genome of sea bass may be only 1.3 fold larger than the 460 Mbp stickleback genome.
Conclusions
The BAC map is used for sequencing single BACs or BAC-pools covering defined genomic entities by second generation sequencing technologies. Together with the WGS dataset it initiates a sea bass genome sequencing project. This will allow the quantification of polymorphisms through resequencing, which is important for selecting highly performing domesticated fish.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-68
PMCID: PMC2837037  PMID: 20105308
12.  Generation and analysis of a 29,745 unique Expressed Sequence Tags from the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) assembled into a publicly accessible database: the GigasDatabase 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:341.
Background
Although bivalves are among the most-studied marine organisms because of their ecological role and economic importance, very little information is available on the genome sequences of oyster species. This report documents three large-scale cDNA sequencing projects for the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas initiated to provide a large number of expressed sequence tags that were subsequently compiled in a publicly accessible database. This resource allowed for the identification of a large number of transcripts and provides valuable information for ongoing investigations of tissue-specific and stimulus-dependant gene expression patterns. These data are crucial for constructing comprehensive DNA microarrays, identifying single nucleotide polymorphisms and microsatellites in coding regions, and for identifying genes when the entire genome sequence of C. gigas becomes available.
Description
In the present paper, we report the production of 40,845 high-quality ESTs that identify 29,745 unique transcribed sequences consisting of 7,940 contigs and 21,805 singletons. All of these new sequences, together with existing public sequence data, have been compiled into a publicly-available Website http://public-contigbrowser.sigenae.org:9090/Crassostrea_gigas/index.html. Approximately 43% of the unique ESTs had significant matches against the SwissProt database and 27% were annotated using Gene Ontology terms. In addition, we identified a total of 208 in silico microsatellites from the ESTs, with 173 having sufficient flanking sequence for primer design. We also identified a total of 7,530 putative in silico, single-nucleotide polymorphisms using existing and newly-generated EST resources for the Pacific oyster.
Conclusion
A publicly-available database has been populated with 29,745 unique sequences for the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas. The database provides many tools to search cleaned and assembled ESTs. The user may input and submit several filters, such as protein or nucleotide hits, to select and download relevant elements. This database constitutes one of the most developed genomic resources accessible among Lophotrochozoans, an orphan clade of bilateral animals. These data will accelerate the development of both genomics and genetics in a commercially-important species with the highest annual, commercial production of any aquatic organism.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-341
PMCID: PMC2907693  PMID: 19640306
13.  Profiling of infection specific mRNA transcripts of the European seabass Dicentrarchus labrax 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:157.
Background
The European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax), one of the most extensively cultured species in European aquaculture productions, is, along with the gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata), a prospective model species for the Perciformes which includes several other commercially important species. Massive mortalities may be caused by bacterial or viral infections in intensive aquaculture production. Revealing transcripts involved in immune response and studying their relative expression enhances the understanding of the immune response mechanism and consequently also the creation of vaccines. The analysis of expressed sequence tags (EST) is an efficient and easy approach for gene discovery, comparative genomics and for examining gene expression in specific tissues in a qualitative and quantitative way.
Results
Here we describe the construction, analysis and comparison of a total of ten cDNA libraries, six from different tissues infected with V. anguillarum (liver, spleen, head kidney, gill, peritoneal exudates and intestine) and four cDNA libraries from different tissues infected with Nodavirus (liver, spleen, head kidney and brain). In total 9605 sequences representing 3075 (32%) unique sequences (set of sequences obtained after clustering) were obtained and analysed. Among the sequences several immune-related proteins were identified for the first time in the order of Perciformes as well as in Teleostei.
Conclusion
The present study provides new information to the Gene Index of seabass. It gives a unigene set that will make a significant contribution to functional genomic studies and to studies of differential gene expression in relation to the immune system. In addition some of the potentially interesting genes identified by in silico analysis and confirmed by real-time PCR are putative biomarkers for bacterial and viral infections in fish.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-157
PMCID: PMC2674461  PMID: 19361338
14.  Discovering genes associated with dormancy in the monogonont rotifer Brachionus plicatilis 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:108.
Background
Microscopic monogonont rotifers, including the euryhaline species Brachionus plicatilis, are typically found in water bodies where environmental factors restrict population growth to short periods lasting days or months. The survival of the population is ensured via the production of resting eggs that show a remarkable tolerance to unfavorable conditions and remain viable for decades. The aim of this study was to generate Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) for molecular characterisation of processes associated with the formation of resting eggs, their survival during dormancy and hatching.
Results
Four normalized and four subtractive libraries were constructed to provide a resource for rotifer transcriptomics associated with resting-egg formation, storage and hatching. A total of 47,926 sequences were assembled into 18,000 putative transcripts and analyzed using both Blast and GO annotation. About 28–55% (depending on the library) of the clones produced significant matches against the Swissprot and Trembl databases. Genes known to be associated with desiccation tolerance during dormancy in other organisms were identified in the EST libraries. These included genes associated with antioxidant activity, low molecular weight heat shock proteins and Late Embryonic Abundant (LEA) proteins. Real-time PCR confirmed that LEA transcripts, small heat-shock proteins and some antioxidant genes were upregulated in resting eggs, therefore suggesting that desiccation tolerance is a characteristic feature of resting eggs even though they do not necessarily fully desiccate during dormancy. The role of trehalose in resting-egg formation and survival remains unclear since there was no significant difference between resting-egg producing females and amictic females in the expression of the tps-1 gene. In view of the absence of vitellogenin transcripts, matches to lipoprotein lipase proteins suggest that, similar to the situation in dipterans, these proteins may serve as the yolk proteins in rotifers.
Conclusion
The 47,926 ESTs expand significantly the current sequence resource of B. plicatilis. It describes, for the first time, genes putatively associated with resting eggs and will serve as a database for future global expression experiments, particularly for the further identification of dormancy related genes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-108
PMCID: PMC2667189  PMID: 19284654
15.  Development and validation of a gene expression oligo microarray for the gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata) 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:580.
Background
Aquaculture represents the most sustainable alternative of seafood supply to substitute for the declining marine fisheries, but severe production bottlenecks remain to be solved. The application of genomic technologies offers much promise to rapidly increase our knowledge on biological processes in farmed species and overcome such bottlenecks. Here we present an integrated platform for mRNA expression profiling in the gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata), a marine teleost of great importance for aquaculture.
Results
A public data base was constructed, consisting of 19,734 unique clusters (3,563 contigs and 16,171 singletons). Functional annotation was obtained for 8,021 clusters. Over 4,000 sequences were also associated with a GO entry. Two 60mer probes were designed for each gene and in-situ synthesized on glass slides using Agilent SurePrint™ technology. Platform reproducibility and accuracy were assessed on two early stages of sea bream development (one-day and four days old larvae). Correlation between technical replicates was always > 0.99, with strong positive correlation between paired probes. A two class SAM test identified 1,050 differentially expressed genes between the two developmental stages. Functional analysis suggested that down-regulated transcripts (407) in older larvae are mostly essential/housekeeping genes, whereas tissue-specific genes are up-regulated in parallel with the formation of key organs (eye, digestive system). Cross-validation of microarray data was carried out using quantitative qRT-PCR on 11 target genes, selected to reflect the whole range of fold-change and both up-regulated and down-regulated genes. A statistically significant positive correlation was obtained comparing expression levels for each target gene across all biological replicates. Good concordance between qRT-PCR and microarray data was observed between 2- and 7-fold change, while fold-change compression in the microarray was present for differences greater than 10-fold in the qRT-PCR.
Conclusion
A highly reliable oligo-microarray platform was developed and validated for the gilthead sea bream despite the presently limited knowledge of the species transcriptome. Because of the flexible design this array will be able to accommodate additional probes as soon as novel unique transcripts are available.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-580
PMCID: PMC2648989  PMID: 19055773
16.  Analysis of the goldfish Carassius auratus olfactory epithelium transcriptome reveals the presence of numerous non-olfactory GPCR and putative receptors for progestin pheromones 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:429.
Background
The goldfish (Carassius auratus) uses steroids and prostaglandins as pheromone cues at different stages of the reproductive cycle to facilitate spawning synchronization. Steroid progestin pheromone binding has been detected in goldfish olfactory membranes but the receptors responsible for this specific binding remain unknown. In order to shed some light on the olfactory epithelium transcriptome and search for possible receptor candidates a large set of EST from this tissue were analysed and compared to and combined with a similar zebrafish (Danio rerio) resource.
Results
We generated 4,797 high quality sequences from a normalized cDNA library of the goldfish olfactory epithelium, which were clustered in 3,879 unique sequences, grouped in 668 contigs and 3,211 singletons. BLASTX searches produced 3,243 significant (E-value < e-10) hits and Gene Ontology (GO) analysis annotated a further 1,223 of these genes (37.7%). Comparative analysis with zebrafish olfactory epithelium ESTs revealed 1,088 identical unigenes. The transcriptome size of both species was estimated at about 16,400 unigenes, based on the proportion of genes identified involved in Glucose Metabolic Process. Of 124 G-protein coupled receptors identified in the olfactory epithelium of both species, 56 were olfactory receptors. Beta and gamma membrane progestin receptors were also isolated by subcloning of RT-PCR products from both species and an olfactory epithelium specific splice form identified.
Conclusion
The high similarity between the goldfish and zebrafish olfactory systems allowed the creation of a 'cyprinid' olfactory epithelium library estimated to represent circa 70% of the transcriptome. These results are an important resource for the identification of components of signalling pathways involved in olfaction as well as putative targets for pharmacological and histochemical studies. The possible function of the receptors identified in the olfactory system is described. Moreover, the role of olfactory epithelium specific isoforms of classical membrane progestin receptor genes as candidates for preovulatory pheromone sensing is discussed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-429
PMCID: PMC2556351  PMID: 18803863
17.  The linear chromosome of the plant-pathogenic mycoplasma 'Candidatus Phytoplasma mali' 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:306.
Background
Phytoplasmas are insect-transmitted, uncultivable bacterial plant pathogens that cause diseases in hundreds of economically important plants. They represent a monophyletic group within the class Mollicutes (trivial name mycoplasmas) and are characterized by a small genome with a low GC content, and the lack of a firm cell wall. All mycoplasmas, including strains of 'Candidatus (Ca.) Phytoplasma asteris' and 'Ca. P. australiense', examined so far have circular chromosomes, as is the case for almost all walled bacteria.
Results
Our work has shown that 'Ca. Phytoplasma mali', the causative agent of apple proliferation disease, has a linear chromosome. Linear chromosomes were also identified in the closely related provisional species 'Ca. P. pyri' and 'Ca. P. prunorum'. The chromosome of 'Ca. P. mali' strain AT is 601,943 bp in size and has a GC content of 21.4%. The chromosome is further characterized by large terminal inverted repeats and covalently closed hairpin ends. Analysis of the protein-coding genes revealed that glycolysis, the major energy-yielding pathway supposed for 'Ca. P. asteris', is incomplete in 'Ca. P. mali'. Due to the apparent lack of other metabolic pathways present in mycoplasmas, it is proposed that maltose and malate are utilized as carbon and energy sources. However, complete ATP-yielding pathways were not identified. 'Ca. P. mali' also differs from 'Ca. P. asteris' by a smaller genome, a lower GC content, a lower number of paralogous genes, fewer insertions of potential mobile DNA elements, and a strongly reduced number of ABC transporters for amino acids. In contrast, 'Ca. P. mali' has an extended set of genes for homologous recombination, excision repair and SOS response than 'Ca. P. asteris'.
Conclusion
The small linear chromosome with large terminal inverted repeats and covalently closed hairpin ends, the extremely low GC content and the limited metabolic capabilities reflect unique features of 'Ca. P. mali', not only within phytoplasmas, but all mycoplasmas. It is expected that the genome information obtained here will contribute to a better understanding of the reduced metabolism of phytoplasmas, their fastidious nutrition requirements that prevented axenic cultivation, and the mechanisms involved in pathogenicity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-306
PMCID: PMC2459194  PMID: 18582369
18.  Surviving extreme polar winters by desiccation: clues from Arctic springtail (Onychiurus arcticus) EST libraries 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:475.
Background
Ice, snow and temperatures of -14°C are conditions which most animals would find difficult, if not impossible, to survive in. However this exactly describes the Arctic winter, and the Arctic springtail Onychiurus arcticus regularly survives these extreme conditions and re-emerges in the spring. It is able to do this by reducing the amount of water in its body to almost zero: a process that is called "protective dehydration". The aim of this project was to generate clones and sequence data in the form of ESTs to provide a platform for the future molecular characterisation of the processes involved in protective dehydration.
Results
Five normalised libraries were produced from both desiccating and rehydrating populations of O. arcticus from stages that had previously been defined as potentially informative for molecular analyses. A total of 16,379 EST clones were generated and analysed using Blast and GO annotation. 40% of the clones produced significant matches against the Swissprot and trembl databases and these were further analysed using GO annotation. Extraction and analysis of GO annotations proved an extremely effective method for identifying generic processes associated with biochemical pathways, proving more efficient than solely analysing Blast data output. A number of genes were identified, which have previously been shown to be involved in water transport and desiccation such as members of the aquaporin family. Identification of these clones in specific libraries associated with desiccation validates the computational analysis by library rather than producing a global overview of all libraries combined.
Conclusion
This paper describes for the first time EST data from the arctic springtail (O. arcticus). This significantly enhances the number of Collembolan ESTs in the public databases, providing useful comparative data within this phylum. The use of GO annotation for analysis has facilitated the identification of a wide variety of ESTs associated with a number of different biochemical pathways involved in the dehydration and recovery process in O. arcticus.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-475
PMCID: PMC2246132  PMID: 18154659
19.  Gene identification and analysis of transcripts differentially regulated in fracture healing by EST sequencing in the domestic sheep 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:172.
Background
The sheep is an important model animal for testing novel fracture treatments and other medical applications. Despite these medical uses and the well known economic and cultural importance of the sheep, relatively little research has been performed into sheep genetics, and DNA sequences are available for only a small number of sheep genes.
Results
In this work we have sequenced over 47 thousand expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from libraries developed from healing bone in a sheep model of fracture healing. These ESTs were clustered with the previously available 10 thousand sheep ESTs to a total of 19087 contigs with an average length of 603 nucleotides. We used the newly identified sequences to develop RT-PCR assays for 78 sheep genes and measured differential expression during the course of fracture healing between days 7 and 42 postfracture. All genes showed significant shifts at one or more time points. 23 of the genes were differentially expressed between postfracture days 7 and 10, which could reflect an important role for these genes for the initiation of osteogenesis.
Conclusion
The sequences we have identified in this work are a valuable resource for future studies on musculoskeletal healing and regeneration using sheep and represent an important head-start for genomic sequencing projects for Ovis aries, with partial or complete sequences being made available for over 5,800 previously unsequenced sheep genes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-172
PMCID: PMC1578570  PMID: 16822315

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