The intertidal marine periwinkle, Littorina littorea, have developed various strategies to deal with cyclic exposures to anoxic and/or freezing stresses when out of water at low tide. With promising translational research potential, evolutionarily conserved microRNAs (miRNAs) have recently become a focus of animal stress response studies. Using RNA-seq, the current study explores the conserved hepatopancreas miRNAs in facilitating snail stress survival. Overall, stress-specific miRNA responses were overserved. Anoxia led to substantial differential miRNA expression patterns, whereas freezing stress showed a relatively high degree of individual variance in miRNA expression. Pathway analysis identified miRNA-related stress survival adaptations, such as cell proliferation. Additionally, machine learning-based gene selection identified seven hepatopancreas miRNAs critical to distinguish between snails under either stress conditions. Our study demonstrated that conserved miRNAs reflect survival adaptations by marine periwinkles under anoxic or frozen conditions, and thus further establishes these snails as an optimal stress model suited for translational research.

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Institute of Biochemistry

Zhang, J. (Jing), Hadj-Moussa, H. (Hanane), & Storey, K. (2020). Marine periwinkle stress-responsive microRNAs: A potential factor to reflect anoxia and freezing survival adaptations. Genomics, 112(6), 4385–4398. doi:10.1016/j.ygeno.2020.07.036