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Open Access Research article

Clock genes and their genomic distributions in three species of salmonid fishes: Associations with genes regulating sexual maturation and cell cycling

Marion I Paibomesai1, Hooman K Moghadam12, Moira M Ferguson1 and Roy G Danzmann1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada

2 College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:215  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-215

Published: 29 July 2010



Clock family genes encode transcription factors that regulate clock-controlled genes and thus regulate many physiological mechanisms/processes in a circadian fashion. Clock1 duplicates and copies of Clock3 and NPAS2-like genes were partially characterized (genomic sequencing) and mapped using family-based indels/SNPs in rainbow trout (RT)(Oncorhynchus mykiss), Arctic charr (AC)(Salvelinus alpinus), and Atlantic salmon (AS)(Salmo salar) mapping panels.


Clock1 duplicates mapped to linkage groups RT-8/-24, AC-16/-13 and AS-2/-18. Clock3/NPAS2-like genes mapped to RT-9/-20, AC-20/-43, and AS-5. Most of these linkage group regions containing the Clock gene duplicates were derived from the most recent 4R whole genome duplication event specific to the salmonids. These linkage groups contain quantitative trait loci (QTL) for life history and growth traits (i.e., reproduction and cell cycling). Comparative synteny analyses with other model teleost species reveal a high degree of conservation for genes in these chromosomal regions suggesting that functionally related or co-regulated genes are clustered in syntenic blocks. For example, anti-müllerian hormone (amh), regulating sexual maturation, and ornithine decarboxylase antizymes (oaz1 and oaz2), regulating cell cycling, are contained within these syntenic blocks.


Synteny analyses indicate that regions homologous to major life-history QTL regions in salmonids contain many candidate genes that are likely to influence reproduction and cell cycling. The order of these genes is highly conserved across the vertebrate species examined, and as such, these genes may make up a functional cluster of genes that are likely co-regulated. CLOCK, as a transcription factor, is found within this block and therefore has the potential to cis-regulate the processes influenced by these genes. Additionally, clock-controlled genes (CCGs) are located in other life-history QTL regions within salmonids suggesting that at least in part, trans-regulation of these QTL regions may also occur via Clock expression.