Comparative gene expression in the symbiotic and aposymbiotic Aiptasia pulchella by expressed sequence tag analysis

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 May 21;318(1):176-86. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2004.03.191.


Intracellular symbiotic relationships are prevalent between cnidarians, such as corals and sea anemones, and the photosynthetic dinoflagellate symbionts. However, there is little understanding about how the genes express when the symbiotic relationship is set up. To characterize genes involved in this association, the endosymbiosis between sea anemone, Aiptasia pulchella, and dinoflagellate zooxanthellae, Symbiodinium spp., was employed as a model. Two complementary DNA (cDNA) libraries were constructed from RNA isolated from symbiotic and aposymbiotic A. pulchella. Using single-pass sequencing of cDNA clones, a total of 870 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) clones were generated from the two libraries: 474 from symbiotic animal and 396 from aposymbiotic animal. The initial ESTs consisted of 143 clusters and 231 singletons. A BLASTX search revealed that 147 unique genes had similarities with protein sequences available from databases; 120 of these clones were categorized according to their putative function. However, many ESTs could not assign functionally. The putative roles of some of the identified genes relative to endosymbiosis were discussed. This is the first report of the use of EST analysis to examine the gene expression in symbiotic and aposymbiotic states of the cnidarians. The systematic analysis of EST from this study provides a useful database for future investigations of the molecular mechanisms involved in algal-cnidarian symbiosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cluster Analysis
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dinoflagellida / genetics*
  • Expressed Sequence Tags*
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Library
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sea Anemones / genetics*
  • Symbiosis


  • DNA, Complementary