Differential gene expression at coral settlement and metamorphosis: a subtractive hybridization study

Hayward, David C., Hetherington, Suzannah, Behm, Carolyn A., Grasso, Lauretta C., Forêt, Sylvain, Miller, David J., and Ball, Eldon E. (2011) Differential gene expression at coral settlement and metamorphosis: a subtractive hybridization study. PLoS ONE, 6 (10). e26411. pp. 1-18.

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A successful metamorphosis from a planktonic larva to a settled polyp, which under favorable conditions will establish a future colony, is critical for the survival of corals. However, in contrast to the situation in other animals, e.g., frogs and insects, little is known about the molecular basis of coral metamorphosis. We have begun to redress this situation with previous microarray studies, but there is still a great deal to learn. In the present paper we have utilized a different technology, subtractive hybridization, to characterize genes differentially expressed across this developmental transition and to compare the success of this method to microarray.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Suppressive subtractive hybridization (SSH) was used to identify two pools of transcripts from the coral, Acropora millepora. One is enriched for transcripts expressed at higher levels at the pre-settlement stage, and the other for transcripts expressed at higher levels at the post-settlement stage. Virtual northern blots were used to demonstrate the efficacy of the subtractive hybridization technique. Both pools contain transcripts coding for proteins in various functional classes but transcriptional regulatory proteins were represented more frequently in the post-settlement pool. Approximately 18% of the transcripts showed no significant similarity to any other sequence on the public databases. Transcripts of particular interest were further characterized by in situ hybridization, which showed that many are regulated spatially as well as temporally. Notably, many transcripts exhibit axially restricted expression patterns that correlate with the pool from which they were isolated. Several transcripts are expressed in patterns consistent with a role in calcification.


We have characterized over 200 transcripts that are differentially expressed between the planula larva and post-settlement polyp of the coral, Acropora millepora. Sequence, putative function, and in some cases temporal and spatial expression are reported.

Item ID: 19950
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
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Copyright: © 2011 Hayward et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2012 05:34
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0604 Genetics > 060405 Gene Expression (incl Microarray and other genome-wide approaches) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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