The central nervous system transcriptome of the weakly electric brown ghost knifefish (Apteronotus leptorhynchus): de novo assembly, annotation, and proteomics validation

BMC Genomics. 2015 Mar 11;16(1):166. doi: 10.1186/s12864-015-1354-2.


Background: The brown ghost knifefish (Apteronotus leptorhynchus) is a weakly electric teleost fish of particular interest as a versatile model system for a variety of research areas in neuroscience and biology. The comprehensive information available on the neurophysiology and neuroanatomy of this organism has enabled significant advances in such areas as the study of the neural basis of behavior, the development of adult-born neurons in the central nervous system and their involvement in the regeneration of nervous tissue, as well as brain aging and senescence. Despite substantial scientific interest in this species, no genomic resources are currently available.

Results: Here, we report the de novo assembly and annotation of the A. leptorhynchus transcriptome. After evaluating several trimming and transcript reconstruction strategies, de novo assembly using Trinity uncovered 42,459 unique contigs containing at least a partial protein-coding sequence based on alignment to a reference set of known Actinopterygii sequences. As many as 11,847 of these contigs contained full or near-full length protein sequences, providing broad coverage of the proteome. A variety of non-coding RNA sequences were also identified and annotated, including conserved long intergenic non-coding RNA and other long non-coding RNA observed previously to be expressed in adult zebrafish (Danio rerio) brain, as well as a variety of miRNA, snRNA, and snoRNA. Shotgun proteomics confirmed translation of open reading frames from over 2,000 transcripts, including alternative splice variants. Assignment of tandem mass spectra was greatly improved by use of the assembly compared to databases of sequences from closely related organisms. The assembly and raw reads have been deposited at DDBJ/EMBL/GenBank under the accession number GBKR00000000. Tandem mass spectrometry data is available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD001285.

Conclusions: Presented here is the first release of an annotated de novo transcriptome assembly from Apteronotus leptorhynchus, providing a broad overview of RNA expressed in central nervous system tissue. The assembly, which includes substantial coverage of a wide variety of both protein coding and non-coding transcripts, will allow the development of better tools to understand the mechanisms underlying unique characteristics of the knifefish model system, such as their tremendous regenerative capacity and negligible brain senescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Contig Mapping
  • Fishes / classification
  • Fishes / genetics*
  • Fishes / metabolism
  • Genome
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Proteome / analysis
  • Proteomics*
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / genetics
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / metabolism
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Transcriptome*


  • Proteome
  • RNA, Long Noncoding

Associated data

  • GENBANK/GBKR00000000
  • GENBANK/GBKR01000000