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The genetic basis and potential molecular mechanism of yellow-albino northern snakehead (Channa argus)

Sun D, Qi X, Wen H, Li C, Li J, Chen J, Tao Z, Zhu M, Zhang X, Li Y
Open Biol. 2023 Feb;13(2):220235. doi: 10.1098/rsob.220235. Epub 2023 Feb 15
Body colour is an important economic trait for commercial fishes. Recently, a new colour morph displaying market-favoured yellow skin (termed as yellow-mutant, YM) of northern snakehead (Channa argus) was discovered in China. We confirmed that YM snakehead is an albino with complete loss of melanin in the skin and eyes by histological and ultrastructural observations, and inherited as a recessive Mendelian trait. By applying genomic analysis approaches, in combination with gene knockdown and rescue experiments, we suggested a non-sense mutation in slc45a2 (c.383G > A) is the causation for the YM snakehead. Notably, significantly higher levels of key melanogenesis genes (tyr, tyrp1, dct and pmel) and phospho-MITF protein were detected in YM snakehead than those in wild-type individuals, and the underlying mechanism was further investigated by comparative transcriptomic analysis. Results revealed that differential expressed genes involved in pathways like MAPK, WNT and calcium signalling were significantly induced in YM snakehead, which might account for the increased amount of melanogenesis elements, and presumably be stimulated by fibroblast-derived melanogenic factors in a paracrine manner. Our study clarified the genetic basis of colour variation in C. argus and provided the preliminary clue indicating the potential involvement of fibroblasts in pigmentation in fish.
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Organism or Cell Type: 
Channa argus (northern snakehead fish)
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