Circular RNAs (circRNAs), a novel class of endogenous RNAs, have been recognized to play important roles in the growth of animals. However, the regulatory mechanism of circRNAs on fish muscle growth is still unclear. In this study, we performed whole transcriptome analysis of skeletal muscles from two populations with different growth rates (fast-growing and slow-growing) of blunt snout bream (Megalobrama amblycephala), an important fish species for aquaculture. The selected circRNAs were validated by qPCR and Sanger sequencing. Pairs of circRNA-miRNA-mRNA networks were constructed with the predicted differentially expressed (DE) pairs, which revealed regulatory roles in muscle myogenesis and hypertrophy. As a result, a total of 445 circRNAs were identified, including 42 DE circRNAs between fast-growing (FG) and slow-growing (SG) groups. Many of these DE circRNAs were related with aminoglycan biosynthetic and metabolic processes, cytokinetic processes, and the adherens junction pathway. The functional prediction results showed that novel_circ_0001608 and novel_circ_0002886, competing to bind with dre-miR-153b-5p and dre-miR-124-6-5p, might act as competing endogenous RNAs (ceRNAs) to control MamblycephalaGene14755 (pik3r1) and MamblycephalaGene10444 (apip) level, respectively, thus playing an important regulatory role in muscle growth. Overall, these results will not only help us to further understand the novel RNA transcripts in M. amblycephala, but also provide new clues to investigate the potential mechanism of circRNAs regulating fish growth and muscle development.
Keywords: RNA-seq; ceRNA; circRNA-miRNA-mRNA; myogenesis.