The common carp is one of the most important cultivated species in the world of freshwater aquaculture. The cultivation of this species is particularly productive due to its high skeletal muscle mass; however, the molecular mechanisms of skeletal muscle development in the common carp remain unknown. It has been shown that a class of non-coding ∼22 nucleotide RNAs called microRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in vertebrate development. They regulate gene expression through sequence-specific interactions with the 3' untranslated regions (UTRs) of target mRNAs and thereby cause translational repression or mRNA destabilization. Intriguingly, the role of miRNAs in the skeletal muscle development of the common carp remains unknown. In this study, a small-RNA cDNA library was constructed from the skeletal muscle of the common carp, and Solexa sequencing technology was used to perform high throughput sequencing of the library. Subsequent bioinformatics analysis identified 188 conserved miRNAs and 7 novel miRNAs in the carp skeletal muscle. The miRNA expression profiling showed that, miR-1, miR-133a-3p, and miR-206 were specifically expressed in muscle-containing organs, and that miR-1, miR-21, miR-26a, miR-27a, miR-133a-3p, miR-206, miR-214 and miR-222 were differentially expressed in the process of skeletal muscle development of the common carp. This study provides a first identification and profiling of miRNAs related to the muscle biology of the common carp. Their identification could provide clues leading towards a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of carp skeletal muscle development.
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