Investigating the gene expression profiles of rehabilitated Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) following red tide exposure

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Abstract

To investigate a Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) mortality event following a red tide bloom in Southwest Florida, an RNA sequencing experiment was conducted. Gene expression changes in white blood cells were assessed in manatees rescued from a red tide affected area (n = 4) and a control group (n = 7) using RNA sequencing. The genes with the largest fold changes were compared between the two groups to identify molecular pathways related to cellular and disease processes. In total, 591 genes (false discovery rate <0.05) were differentially expressed in the red tide group. Of these, 158 were upregulated and 433 were downregulated. This suggests major changes in white blood cell composition following an exposure to red tide. The most highly upregulated gene, Osteoclast associated 2C immunoglobulin-like receptor (OSCAR), was upregulated 12-fold. This gene is involved in initiating the immune response and maintaining a role in adaptive and innate immunity. The most highly downregulated gene, Piccolo presynaptic cytomatrix protein (PCLO), was downregulated by a factor of 977-fold. This gene is associated with cognitive functioning and neurotransmitter release. Downregulation of this gene in other studies was associated with neuronal loss and neuron synapse dysfunction. Among the cellular pathways that were most affected, immune response, including inflammation, wounds and injuries, cell proliferation, and apoptosis were the most predominant. The pathway with the most differentially expressed genes was the immune response pathway with 98 genes involved, many of them downregulated. Assessing the changes in gene expression associated with red tide

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Lazensky, R., Hunter, M. E., Amador, D. M., Al-Khedery, B., Yu, F., Walsh, C., … Denslow, N. D. (2020). Investigating the gene expression profiles of rehabilitated Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) following red tide exposure. PLoS ONE, 15(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234150

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