Fish physiology and biochemistry 2017 07 05() doi 10.1007/s10695-017-0379-7
Red crucian carp (Carassius auratus red var.) is an ornamental fish with vivid red/orange color. It has been found that the adult body color of this strain forms a gray-to-red change. In this study, skin transcriptomes of red crucian carp are first obtained for three different stages of body color development, named by gray-color (GC), color-variation (CV), and red-color (RC) stages, respectively. From the skins of GC, CV, and RC, 103,229; 108,208; and 120,184 transcripts have been identified, respectively. Bioinformatics analysis reveals that 2483, 2967, and 4473 unigenes are differentially expressed between CV and GC, RC and CV, and RC and GC, respectively. A part of the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) are involved in the signaling pathway of pigment synthesis, such as the melanogenesis genes (Mitfa, Pax3a, Foxd3, Mc1r, Asip); tyrosine metabolism genes (Tyr, Dct, Tyrp1, Silva, Tat, Hpda); and pteridine metabolism genes (Gch, Xdh, Ptps, Tc). According to the data of transcriptome and quantitative PCR, the expression of Mitfa and its regulated genes which include the genes of Tyr, Tyrp1, Dct, Tfe3a, and Baxα, decreases with gray-to-red change. It is suggested that Mitfa and some genes, being related to melanin synthesis or melanophore development, are closely related to the gray-to-red body color transformation in the red crucian carp. Furthermore, the DEGs of cell apoptosis and autophagy pathway, such as Tfe3a, Baxα, Hsp70, Beclin1, Lc3, Atg9a, and Atg4a, might be involved in the melanocytes fade away of juvenile fish. These results shed light on the regulation mechanism of gray-to-red body color transformation in red crucian carp, and are helpful to the selective breeding of ornamental fish strains.