Sea cucumbers, Apostichopus japonicus, experience seasonally high water temperatures during the summer months and enter aestivation to survive. Aestivation is characterized by strong metabolic rate depression which is supported by a series of strategies including reorganizing metabolic processes, suppressing cell functions, enhancing cytoprotective mechanisms, and altered gene expression. The respiratory tree tissue of the sea cucumber is an excellent material for studying aestivation, undergoing obvious atrophy during aestivation. The present study analyzed the global gene expression profile of respiratory tree tissue of A. japonicus during aestivation by constructing and screening three libraries representing key stages of aestivation: non-aestivation (NA), deep-aestivation (DA), and arousal from aestivation (AA) using RNA-seq. A total of 1240, 1184 and 303 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified following the criteria of |log2 ratio|≥1 and FDR≤0.001 in comparisons of DA vs. NA, AA vs. NA and DA vs. AA. A set of respiratory tree specific DEGs was identified the first time and, in addition, common DEGs that were responsive to aestivation in both respiratory tree and intestine were identified. Functional analysis of DEGs was further performed by GO enrichment analysis and respiratory tree specific GO terms were screened out and provide interesting hints for further studies of the molecular regulation of aestivation in A. japonicus.

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Keywords Aestivation, Apostichopus japonicus, Differential gene expression, Respiratory tree, RNA-seq
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Journal Marine Genomics
Zhao, Y. (Ye), Yang, H. (Hongsheng), Storey, K, & Chen, M. (Muyan). (2014). Differential gene expression in the respiratory tree of the sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus during aestivation. Marine Genomics, 18(PB), 173–183. doi:10.1016/j.margen.2014.07.001