Marine Science Faculty Publications

Potential Role for MicroRNA in Regulating Hypoxia-induced Metabolic Suppression in Jumbo Squids

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At night, Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) rise to the ocean's surface to feed, but come morning, they descend into the ocean's oxygen minimum zone where they can avoid predators but must deal with severe hypoxia, high pressure, and very cold water. To survive this extreme environment, squid use various adaptations to enter a hypometabolic state characterized by metabolic rate suppression by 35–52%, relative to normoxic conditions. The molecular mechanisms facilitating this metabolic flexibility have yet to be elucidated in hypometabolic squid. Herein, we report the first investigation of the role of microRNAs, a rapid and reversible post-transcriptional master regulator of virtually all biological functions, in cephalopods. We examined expression levels of 39 highly-conserved invertebrate microRNAs in D. gigas brain, mantle muscle, and branchial heart, comparing hypoxic and normoxic conditions. Hypoxia-inducible microRNAs are potentially involved in facilitating neuroprotection, anti-apoptosis, and regenerative mechanisms in brain; inhibiting apoptosis and cell proliferation while conserving energy in heart; and limiting damage by reactive oxygen species and apoptosis in muscle. Rather than orchestrate global metabolic rate depression, the majority of hypoxia-inducible microRNAs identified are involved in promoting cytoprotective mechanisms, suggesting a regulatory role for microRNA in hypoxic marine invertebrates that sets the stage for mechanistic analyses.

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Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Gene Regulatory Mechanisms, v. 1861, issue 6, p. 586-593