Comparative profiling of hepatopancreas transcriptomes in satiated and starving Pomacea canaliculata.
Background: Although Pomacea canaliculata is native to South and Central America, it has become one of the most abundant invasive species worldwide and causes extensive damage to agriculture and horticulture. Conventional physical and chemical techniques have been used to eliminate P. canaliculata, but the effects are not ideal. Therefore, it is important to devise a new method based on a greater understanding of the biology of P. canaliculata. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying digestion and absorption in P. canaliculata are not well understood due to the lack of available genomic information for this species, particularly for digestive enzyme genes. Results: In the present study, hepatopancreas transcriptome sequencing produced over 223 million high-quality reads, and a global de novo assembly generated a total of 87,766 unique transcripts (unigenes), of which 19,942 (22.7%) had significant similarities to proteins in the UniProt database. In addition, 296,675 annotated sequences were associated with Gene Ontology (GO) terms. A Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway enrichment was performed for the unique unigenes, and 262 pathways (p-value <10-5) in P. canaliculata were found to be predominantly related to plant consumption and coarse fiber digestion and absorption. These transcripts were classified into four large categories: hydrolase, transferase, isomerase and cytochrome P450. The Reads Per Kilobase of transcript per Million mapped reads (RPKM) analysis showed that there were 523 down-regulated unigenes and 406 up-regulated unigenes in the starving apple snails compared with the satiated apple snails. Several important genes are associated with digestion and absorption in plants: endo-beta-1, 4-glucanase, xylanase, cellulase, cellulase EGX1, cellulase EGX3 and G-type lysozyme genes were identified. The qRT-PCR results confirmed that the expression patterns of these genes (except for the longipain gene) were consistent with the RNA-Seq results. Conclusions: Our results provide a more comprehensive understanding of the molecular genes associated with hepatopancreas functioning. Differentially expressed genes corresponding to critical metabolic pathways were detected in the transcriptome of starving apple snails compared with satiated apple snails. In addition to the cellulase gene, other genes were identified that may be important factors in plant matter metabolism in P. canaliculata, and this information has the potential to expedite the study of digestive physiology in apple snails.