Comparative transcriptomic analysis reveals the gonadal development-related gene response to environmental temperature in Mauremys mutica

Comp Biochem Physiol Part D Genomics Proteomics. 2021 Dec;40:100925. doi: 10.1016/j.cbd.2021.100925. Epub 2021 Oct 19.


The Asian yellow pond turtle (Mauremys mutica) displays temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), in which incubation temperature during embryonic development determines the sexual fate of the individual. However, the mechanism of the sex determination/differentiation of Mauremys mutica remains a mystery. Here, we first analyzed the temperature-specific gonadal transcriptomes of Mauremys mutica prior to gonad formation and gonads during the thermosensitive period. We uncovered a list of candidates that respond to temperature stimuli enriched in several categories, such as heat shock protein family members dnajb6a, dnaja4, hspa8 and hsp90aa1, temperature sensor genes mmp17 and mmp28, and putative novel temperature-responsive genes tmco6, gria3 and eif3f. Notably, striking differences were identified in the expression profiles of genes underlying sexual development, such as tex15, insr, igf1r, cirbp, esr1, dmrt2 and Serpinh1. Moreover, we analyzed the similarity and divergence of the timecourse of gene expression among Mauremys mutica and two other reported TSD turtles (Trachemys scripta and Chrysemys picta). The shared genes revealed the common gonad-specific regulatory mechanisms existing in these three TSD turtles that initiate their sexual development. Therefore, our findings could provide basic data to elucidate the mechanisms of sex determination/differentiation of M. mutica, even contributing to further understanding of these mechanisms in other TSD turtles.

Keywords: Comparative transcriptome; Gonadal development; RNA-seq; Temperature-dependent sex determination; Turtles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't