Transcriptional profiles of early stage red sea urchins (Mesocentrotus franciscanus) reveal differential regulation of gene expression across development

The red sea urchin, Mesocentrotus franciscanus, is an ecologically important kelp forest species that also serves as a valuable fisheries resource. In this study, we have assembled and annotated a developmental transcriptome for M. franciscanus that represents eggs and six stages of early development (8- to 16-cell, morula, hatched blastula, early gastrula, prism and early pluteus). Characterization of the transcriptome revealed distinct patterns of gene expression that corresponded to major developmental and morphological processes. In addition, the period during which maternally-controlled transcription was terminated and the zygotic genome was activated, the maternal-to-zygotic transition (MZT), was found to begin during early cleavage and persist through the hatched blastula stage, an observation that is similar to the timing of the MZT in other sea urchin species. The presented developmental transcriptome will serve as a useful resource for investigating, in both an ecological and fisheries context, how the early developmental stages of this species respond to environmental stressors.

Wong J. M., Gaitán-Espitia J. D. & Hofmann G. E., in press. Transcriptional profiles of early stage red sea urchins (Mesocentrotus franciscanus) reveal differential regulation of gene expression across development. Marine Genomics. Article (subscription required).

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