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Variation in global transcriptomic response to Perkinsus marinus infection among Eastern oyster families highlights potential mechanisms of disease resistance

posted on 2024-01-26, 23:49 authored by USDA Agricultural Research Service
Dermo disease, caused by the protozoan parasite Perkinsus marinus, negatively impacts wild and cultured Eastern oyster populations, yet our knowledge of the mechanistic bases for parasite pathogenicity and the Eastern oyster’s response to it is limited. To better understand host responses to the parasite and identify molecular mechanisms underlying disease-resistance phenotypes, we experimentally challenged two families exhibiting divergent Dermo-resistance phenotypes with the parasite, generated global expression profiles using RNAseq and identified differentially expressed transcripts between control and challenged oysters from each family at multiple time points post-parasite injection. The susceptible and resistant families exhibited strikingly different transcriptomic responses to the parasite over a 28-day time period. The resistant family exhibited a strong, focused, early response to P. marinus infection, where many significantly upregulated transcripts were associated with the biological processes “regulation of proteolysis” and “oxidation-reduction process.” P. marinus virulence factors are mainly comprised of proteases that facilitate parasite invasion and weaken host humoral defenses, thus host upregulation of transcripts associated with negative regulation of proteolysis is consistent with a Dermo-resistant phenotype. In contrast, the susceptible family mounted a very weak, disorganized, initial response to the parasite. Few transcripts were differentially expressed between control and injected oysters, and no functional enrichment was detected among them. At the final 28 d time point 2450 differentially expressed transcripts were identified and were associated with either “G-protein coupled receptor activity” (upregulated) or “microtubule-based process” (downregulated). A handful of protease inhibitors were differentially expressed between control and injected susceptible oysters, but this function was not enriched in the susceptible data set. The differential expression patterns observed in this study provide valuable insight into the functional basis of Dermo resistance and suggest that the timing of expression is just as important as the transcripts being expressed.


U.S. Department of Agriculture, CRIS # 8030-31000-004-00D


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  • Non-geospatial

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  • biota

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sequence analysis

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  • Public

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