Growth is one of the most important traits of aquaculture breeding programs. Understanding the mechanisms underlying growth differences between individuals can contribute to improving growth rates through more efficient breeding schemes. Ruditapes philippinarum is an economically important marine bivalve. In order to gain insights into the molecular mechanisms to growth variability in marine shellfish, we conducted the transcriptome sequencing and examined the expression differences in growth-related gene and molecular pathways involved in growth trait of R. philippinarum. In this study, we investigated the molecular and gene expression differences in fast-growing and slow-growing Manila clam and focused on the analysis of the differential expression patterns of specific genes associated with growth by RNA-seq and qPCR analysis. A total of 61 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were captured significantly differentially expressed, and were categorized into Ras signaling pathway, hedgehog signaling pathway, AMPK signaling pathway, p53 signaling pathway, regulation of actin cytoskeleton, focal adhesion, mTOR signaling pathway, VEGF signaling pathway, and TGF-beta signaling pathway. A total of 34 growth-related genes were validated significantly and up/downregulated at fast growing and slow growing of R. philippinarum. Functional enrichment analysis revealed the insulin signaling pathway, PI3K-Akt signaling pathway, and mTOR signaling pathway play pivotal roles in molecular function and regulation of growth trait in R. philippinarum. The growth-related genes and pathways obtained here provide important insights into the molecular basis of physiological acclimation, metabolic activity, and growth variability in marine bivalves.
Keywords: Gene expression; Growth-related gene; Molecular function; Ruditapes philippinarum; Signaling pathway; Transcriptomic analysis.