Integrative mRNA-miRNA interaction analysis reveals the molecular mechanism of skin color variation between wild-type and yellow mutant rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Comp Biochem Physiol Part D Genomics Proteomics. 2021 Dec;40:100914. doi: 10.1016/j.cbd.2021.100914. Epub 2021 Sep 29.


Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is an important economic fish in China. Skin color affects the economic value of trout. However, the molecular mechanism of the skin color variation between wild-type (WR) and yellow mutant rainbow trout (YR) is unclear. We sequenced mRNAs and miRNAs of dorsal skin to identify key color variation-associated mRNAs and miRNAs between WR and YR. Overall, 2060 out of 3625 differentially expressed genes were upregulated in YR, and 196 out of 275 differentially expressed miRNAs were downregulated in WR. We identified three key YR-upregulated genes related to the formation of xanthophores (GCH1, SLC2A11, and SOX10). Interestingly, several genes related to melanogenesis (TYR, TYRP1, TYRP2, MC1R, MITF, PMEL, SLC45A2, and OCA2) were downregulated in WR. Integrated analysis identified five miRNAs that target at least two skin color-related genes (miR-495-y, miR-543-y, miR-665-z, miR-433-y, and miR-382-x). Gene Ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway enrichment analyses of target genes identified noncoding RNA metabolic process as the most significantly enriched GO term, and several metabolic pathways associated with skin color were enriched significantly, such as tyrosine metabolism, histidine metabolism, and vitamin B6 metabolism. Quantitative real-time PCR of selected mRNAs and miRNAs validated the reliability of the integrated analysis. This study provides in-depth insights into the molecular mechanism of skin color variation between WR and YR, which will accelerate the genetic selection and breeding of rainbow trout with consumer-favored traits.

Keywords: Pigment genes; Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss); Skin color; Transcriptome; miRNA-seq.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • Oncorhynchus mykiss* / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Skin Pigmentation / genetics
  • Transcriptome


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger