The Eastern woodchuck (Marmota monax) is a classical animal model for studying hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in humans. Recently, we found that Marmota himalayana, an Asian animal species closely related to Marmota monax, is susceptible to woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV) infection and can be used as a new mammalian model for HBV infection. However, the lack of genomic sequence information of both Marmota models strongly limited their application breadth and depth. To address this major obstacle of the Marmota models, we utilized Illumina RNA-Seq technology to sequence the cDNA libraries of liver and spleen samples of two Marmota monax and four Marmota himalayana. In total, over 13 billion nucleotide bases were sequenced and approximately 1.5 billion clean reads were obtained. Following assembly, 106,496 consensus sequences of Marmota monax and 78,483 consensus sequences of Marmota himalayana were detected. For functional annotation, in total 73,603 Unigenes of Marmota monax and 78,483 Unigenes of Marmota himalayana were identified using different databases (NR, NT, Swiss-Prot, KEGG, COG, GO). The Unigenes were aligned by blastx to protein databases to decide the coding DNA sequences (CDS) and in total 41,247 CDS of Marmota monax and 34,033 CDS of Marmota himalayana were predicted. The single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and the simple sequence repeats (SSRs) were also analyzed for all Unigenes obtained. Moreover, a large-scale transcriptome comparison was performed and revealed a high similarity in transcriptome sequences between the two marmota species. Our study provides an extensive amount of novel sequence information for Marmota monax and Marmota himalayana. This information may serve as a valuable genomics resource for further molecular, developmental and comparative evolutionary studies, as well as for the identification and characterization of functional genes that are involved in WHV infection and HCC development in the woodchuck model.
Liu, Y., Wang, B., Wang, L., Vikash, V., Wang, Q., Roggendorf, M., … Liu, J. (2016). Transcriptome analysis and comparison of marmota monax and marmota himalayana. PLoS ONE, 11(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0165875