Image_2_Gene Expression Program Underlying Tail Resorption During Thyroid Hormone-Dependent Metamorphosis of the Ornamented Pygmy Frog Microhyla fissipes.TIF
Thyroid hormone (T3) is essential for vertebrate development, especially during the so-called postembryonic development, a period around birth in mammals when plasma T3 level peaks and many organs mature into their adult form. Compared to embryogenesis, postembryonic development is poorly studied in mammals largely because of the difficulty to manipulate the uterus-enclosed embryos and neonates. Amphibian metamorphosis is independent of maternal influence and can be easily manipulated for molecular and genetic studies, making it a valuable model to study postembryonic development in vertebrates. Studies on amphibian metamorphosis have been largely focused on the two highly related species Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis. However, adult X. laevis and X. tropicalis animals remain aquatic. This makes important to study metamorphosis in a species in which postmetamorphic frogs live on land. In this regard, the anuran Microhyla fissipes represents an alternative model for developmental and genetic studies. Here we have made use of the advances in sequencing technologies to investigate the gene expression profiles underlying the tail resorption program during metamorphosis in M. fissipes. We first used single molecule real-time sequencing to obtain 67, 939 expressed transcripts in M. fissipes. We next identified 4,555 differentially expressed transcripts during tail resorption by using Illumina sequencing on RNA samples from tails at different metamorphic stages. Bioinformatics analyses revealed that 11 up-regulated KEGG (Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes) pathways and 88 Gene Ontology (GO) terms as well as 21 down-regulated KEGG pathways and 499 GO terms were associated with tail resorption. Our findings suggest that tail resorption in M. fissipes and X. laevis shares many programs. Future investigations on function and regulation of these genes and pathways should help to reveal the mechanisms governing amphibian tail resorption and adaptive evolution from aquatic to terrestrial life. Furthermore, analysis of the M. fissipes model, especially, on the changes in other organs associated with the transition from aquatic to terrestrial living, should help to reveal important mechanistic insights governing mammalian postembryonic developments.