Open Access Open Badges Research article

Identification and characterization of microRNAs involved in growth of blunt snout bream (Megalobrama amblycephala) by Solexa sequencing

Shaokui Yi12, Ze-Xia Gao12*, Honghao Zhao12, Cong Zeng14, Wei Luo12, Boxiang Chen13 and Wei-Min Wang1*

Author Affiliations

1 College of Fisheries, Key Lab of Agricultural Animal Genetics, Breeding and Reproduction of Ministry of Education/Key Lab of Freshwater Animal Breeding, Ministry of Agriculture, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, Hubei, 430070, China

2 Freshwater Aquaculture Collaborative Innovation Center of Hubei Province, Wuhan, 430070, China

3 Hu Bei Bai Rong Improved Aquatic Seed CO., LTD, Huanggang, Hubei, 438800, China

4 School of Biological Science, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, 6014, New Zealand

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Genomics 2013, 14:754  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-754

Published: 5 November 2013



Blunt snout bream (Megalobrama amblycephala) is an economically important fish species in the Chinese freshwater polyculture system for its delicacy and high economic value. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in regulation of almost all biological processes in eukaryotes. Although previous studies have identified thousands of miRNAs from many species, little information is known for miRNAs of M. amblycephala. To investigate functions of miRNAs associated with growth of M. amblycephala, we adopted the Solexa sequencing technology to sequence two small RNA libraries prepared from four growth related tissues (brain, pituitary, liver and muscle) of M. amblycephala using individuals with relatively high and low growth rates.


In this study, we have identified 347 conserved miRNAs (belonging to 123 families) and 22 novel miRNAs in M. amblycephala. Moreover, we observed sequence variants and seed edits of the miRNAs. Of the 5,166 single nucleotide substitutions observed in two libraries, the most abundant were G-to-U (15.9%), followed by U-to-C (12.1%), G-to-A (11.2%), and A to G (11.2%). Subsequently, we compared the expression patterns of miRNAs in the two libraries (big-size group with high growth rate versus small-size group with low growth rate). Results indicated that 27 miRNAs displayed significant differential expressions between the two libraries (p < 0.05). Of these, 16 were significantly up-regulated and 11 were significantly down-regulated in the big-size group compared to the small-size group. Furthermore, stem-loop RT-PCR was applied to validate and profile the expression of the differentially expressed miRNAs in ten tissues, and the result revealed that the conserved miRNAs expressed at higher levels than the novel miRNAs, especially in brain, liver and muscle. Also, targets prediction of differentially expressed miRNAs and KEGG pathway analysis suggested that differentially expressed miRNAs are involved in growth and metabolism, signal transduction, cell cycle, neural development and functions.


The present study provides the first large-scale characterization of miRNAs in M. amblycephala and miRNA profile related to different growth performances. The discovery of miRNA resource from this study is expected to contribute to a better understanding of the miRNAs roles playing in regulating the growth biological processes and the study of miRNA function and phenotype-associated miRNA identification in fish.