To further reveal the host-parasite interactions between the parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium and its crustacean hosts, researchers at the Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology applied the high-throughput sequencing technology from LC Sciences to identify and characterize miRNAs in the Chinese swimming crab Portunus trituberculatus challenged with the Hematodinium parasite at a timescale of 16 days (d). A total of 168 miRNAs were identified and 51 miRNAs were differentially expressed in the hepatopancreas tissues of affected hosts. Eleven of the differentially expressed miRNAs were selected and verified by the quantitative real-time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR), manifesting the consistency between the high throughout sequencing and qRT-PCR assays. Further analysis of the putative target genes indicated that various immune-related pathways (e.g. endocytosis, Fc gamma R-mediated phagocytosis, lysosome, ECM-receptor interaction, complement and coagulation cascades, antigen processing and presentation, focal adhesion, etc.) and signal transduction pathways (e.g. JAK-STAT signaling pathway, MAPK signaling pathway, p53 signaling pathway, etc.) were mediated by the differentially expressed miRNAs.
These results presented fundamental knowledge on the immunological roles of crustacean miRNAs and contributed to the better understanding of hosts’ miRNAs-mediated immunity against the parasitic infection.