The Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) presents an excellent model to investigate mechanisms of brain development that are conserved among vertebrates. In particular, metamorphic changes of the brain can be induced in free-living aquatic juveniles and adults by simply adding thyroid hormone (T4) to rearing water. Whole brains were sampled from juvenile A. mexicanum that were exposed to 0, 8, and 18 days of 50 nM T4, and these were used to isolate RNA and make normalized cDNA libraries for 454 DNA sequencing. A total of 1,875,732 high quality cDNA reads were assembled with existing ESTs to obtain 5884 new contigs for human RefSeq protein models, and to develop a custom Affymetrix gene expression array (Amby_002) with approximately 20,000 probe sets. The Amby_002 array was used to identify 303 transcripts that differed statistically (p<0.05, fold change >1.5) as a function of days of T4 treatment. Further statistical analyses showed that Amby_002 performed concordantly in comparison to an existing, small format expression array. This study introduces a new A. mexicanum microarray resource for the community and the first lists of T4-responsive genes from the brain of a salamander amphibian.
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