MicroRNA profiling in the Weddell seal suggests novel regulatory mechanisms contributing to diving adaptation

Penso-Dolfin, Luca, Haerty, Wilfried ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0111-191X, Hindle, Allyson and Di Palma, Federica (2020) MicroRNA profiling in the Weddell seal suggests novel regulatory mechanisms contributing to diving adaptation. BMC Genomics, 21 (1). ISSN 1471-2164

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Background: The Weddell Seal (Leptonychotes weddelli) represents a remarkable example of adaptation to diving among marine mammals. This species is capable of diving > 900 m deep and remaining underwater for more than 60 min. A number of key physiological specializations have been identified, including the low levels of aerobic, lipid-based metabolism under hypoxia, significant increase in oxygen storage in blood and muscle; high blood volume and extreme cardiovascular control. These adaptations have been linked to increased abundance of key proteins, suggesting an important, yet still understudied role for gene reprogramming. In this study, we investigate the possibility that post-transcriptional gene regulation by microRNAs (miRNAs) has contributed to the adaptive evolution of diving capacities in the Weddell Seal. Results: Using small RNA data across 4 tissues (brain, heart, muscle and plasma), in 3 biological replicates, we generate the first miRNA annotation in this species, consisting of 559 high confidence, manually curated miRNA loci. Evolutionary analyses of miRNA gain and loss highlight a high number of Weddell seal specific miRNAs. Four hundred sixteen miRNAs were differentially expressed (DE) among tissues, whereas 80 miRNAs were differentially expressed (DE) across all tissues between pups and adults and age differences for specific tissues were detected in 188 miRNAs. mRNA targets of these altered miRNAs identify possible protective mechanisms in individual tissues, particularly relevant to hypoxia tolerance, anti-apoptotic pathways, and nitric oxide signal transduction. Novel, lineage-specific miRNAs associated with developmental changes target genes with roles in angiogenesis and vasoregulatory signaling. Conclusions: Altogether, we provide an overview of miRNA composition and evolution in the Weddell seal, and the first insights into their possible role in the specialization to diving.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Publisher Copyright: © 2020 The Author(s).
Uncontrolled Keywords: adaptation,deep diving,evolution,gene regulation,hypoxia,marine mammals,microrna,biotechnology,genetics,sdg 14 - life below water ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1300/1305
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Faculty of Science
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Research Centres > Norwich Institute for Healthy Aging
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2022 14:30
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2023 20:31
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/88317
DOI: 10.1186/s12864-020-6675-0

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