There is currently a paucity of specific genetic data regarding growth and reproduction-related processes in abalone, marine vetigastropods of commercial value. However, strong inferences about these processes can be drawn from other molluscs. For example, ganglia from the gastropods Aplysia and Lymnaea are known to produce neuropeptides related to growth, feeding behavior, and reproduction. Here, we use suppression subtractive hybridization to identify expressed genes that may be linked to the control of growth and feeding in the tropical abalone Haliotis asinina. Two pools of suppression subtractive hybridization clones were obtained from messenger RNA derived from H. asinina cerebral and pleuropedal ganglia, corresponding to genes differentially expressed in (1) well-nourished animals relative to food-deprived ones and (2) well-nourished animals relative to reproductively active ones. From these subtractions, respectively, 204 and 214 unigenes were identified in 222 and 231 sequenced clones, with 18 of these unigenes common to both subtractions. A subset of the putative differentially expressed genes was confirmed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction, validating this approach. The transcripts that are differentially expressed in the ganglia of growing H. asinina fall into a wide range of functional categories, including biological regulation, cell proliferation, and metabolic process, and include genes encoding Phe-Met-Arg-Phe-NH2 (or, FMRF-amide), myomodulin, CDC123, RAB37, and dermatopontin.
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Vol. 29 • No. 3