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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2021 Nov 25;228:112994. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2021.112994.
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Emerging roles of circRNAs in regulating thermal and hypoxic stresses in Apostichopus japonicus (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea).

Huo D , Sun L , Sun J , Lin C , Liu S , Zhang L , Yang H .

Some sea cucumbers are economically and ecologically important, but they are threatened by thermal and hypoxic stress in changing oceanographic conditions. We construct circRNAs profiles, reveal circRNAs characters, and illustrate the potential regulatory roles of circRNAs in one commercially important species of sea cucumber, Apostichopus japonicus. Reads are distributed in intergenic (44.14%), exonic (48.26%) and intronic (7.60%) regions of the genome. A total of 1684 circRNAs were identified, and the most common spliced length is 269 nt in the present study. In three treatments (HT [thermal stress], LO [hypoxic stress], and HL [combined thermal and hypoxic stress]), 24, 27 and 27 differentially expressed (DE) circRNAs were identified, respectively. Five novel DE-circRNAs commonly occur in these treatments (novel_circ_0003311, novel_circ_0000229, novel_circ_0003944, novel_circ_0001458 and novel_circ_0000707), and based on them, potential circRNA-miRNA binding pairs were predicted. Sanger sequencing, RNase R treatment experiment and qPCR validation identified the accuracy of the circRNAs. Key circRNAs identified in the present study were covalently closed and were more stable under RNase R treatment than linear RNAs. Based on function analysis, circRNAs could regulate metabolic process, signal transduction, and ion responses in A. japonicus when exposed to thermal and hypoxic stress, and 'regulation of response to stimulus' is a common gene ontology (GO) term that is significantly enriched in each treatment; GO terms for 'DNA' and 'stress' are commonly enriched in heat-related treatments (HT and HL); and GO terms for 'protein' are commonly enriched in hypoxia-related treatments (LO and HL). When environmentally stressed, 'metabolism,' 'transport and catabolism,' 'membrane transport,' and 'signal transduction' were significantly responded in sea cucumber based on KEGG analysis. We provide insights into circRNA functions in stress regulation and lay a foundation for invertebrate circRNA research.

PubMed ID: 34839139
Article link: Ecotoxicol Environ Saf