Insights into hepatopancreatic functions for nutrition metabolism and ovarian development in the crab Portunus trituberculatus: gene discovery in the comparative transcriptome of different hepatopancreas stages.
The crustacean hepatopancreas has different functions including absorption, storage of nutrients and vitellogenesis during growth, and ovarian development. However, genetic information on the biological functions of the crustacean hepatopancreas during such processes is limited. The swimming crab, Portunus trituberculatus, is a commercially important species for both aquaculture and fisheries in the Asia-Pacific region. This study compared the transcriptome in the hepatopancreas of female P. trituberculatus during the growth and ovarian maturation stages by 454 high-throughput pyrosequencing and bioinformatics. The goal was to discover genes in the hepatopancreas involved in food digestion, nutrition metabolism and ovarian development, and to identify patterns of gene expression during growth and ovarian maturation. Our transcriptome produced 303,450 reads with an average length of 351 bp, and the high quality reads were assembled into 21,635 contigs and 31,844 singlets. Based on BLASTP searches of the deduced protein sequences, there were 7,762 contigs and 4,098 singlets with functional annotation. Further analysis revealed 33,427 unigenes with ORFs, including 17,388 contigs and 16,039 singlets in the hepatopancreas, while only 7,954 unigenes (5,691 contigs and 2,263 singlets) with the predicted protein sequences were annotated with biological functions. The deduced protein sequences were assigned to 3,734 GO terms, 25 COG categories and 294 specific pathways. Furthermore, there were 14, 534, and 22 identified unigenes involved in food digestion, nutrition metabolism and ovarian development, respectively. 212 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were found between the growth and endogenous stage of the hepatopancreas, while there were 382 DEGs between the endogenous and exogenous stage hepatopancreas. Our results not only enhance the understanding of crustacean hepatopancreatic functions during growth and ovarian development, but also represent a basis for further research on new genes and functional genomics of P. trituberculatus or closely related species.