Gonadal microRNA Expression Profiles and Their Potential Role in Sex Differentiation and Gonadal Maturation of Mud Crab Scylla paramamosain

Mar Biotechnol (NY). 2019 Jun;21(3):320-334. doi: 10.1007/s10126-019-09882-1. Epub 2019 Mar 5.


Although the sexual dimorphism in terms of gonadal development and gametogenesis of mud crab has been described, the internal regulating mechanism and sex differentiation process remain unclear. A comparative gonadal miRNA transcriptomic study was conducted to identify miRNAs that are differentially expressed between testes and ovaries, and potentially uncover miRNAs that might be involved in sex differentiation and gonadal maturation mechanisms of mud crabs (Scylla paramamosain). A total of 10 known miRNAs and 130 novel miRNAs were identified, among which 54 were differentially expressed. Target gene prediction revealed a significant enrichment in 30 KEGG pathways, including some reproduction-related pathways, e.g. phosphatidylinositol signalling system and inositol phosphate metabolism pathways. Further analysis on six differentially expressed known miRNAs, six differentially expressed novel miRNAs and their reproduction-related putative target genes shows that both miRNAs and putative target genes showed stage-specific expression during gonadal maturation, suggesting their potential regulatory roles in sex differentiation and reproductive development. This study reveals the sex-biased miRNA profile and establishes a solid foundation for understanding the sex differentiation and gonadal maturation mechanisms of S. paramamosain.

Keywords: Gonadal maturation; Mud crab; Scylla paramamosain; Sex differentiation; microRNA.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brachyura / genetics*
  • Brachyura / growth & development*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gonads / growth & development*
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Sex Differentiation / genetics*
  • Sexual Maturation / genetics*


  • MicroRNAs