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Circadian signaling in the Northern krill Meganyctiphanes norvegica: In silico prediction of the protein components of a putative clock system using a publicly accessible transcriptome

Christie, Andrew E., Yu, Andy, Pascual, Micah G.
Marine genomics 2018 v.37 pp. 97-113
Meganyctiphanes norvegica, cryptochromes, genes, krill, migratory behavior, phytoplankton, predator avoidance, prediction, transcriptome, zooplankton, Atlantic Ocean
The Northern krill Meganyctiphanes norvegica is a significant component of the zooplankton community in many regions of the North Atlantic Ocean. In the areas it inhabits, M. norvegica is of great importance ecologically, as it is both a major consumer of phytoplankton/small zooplankton and is a primary food source for higher-level consumers. One behavior of significance for both feeding and predator avoidance in Meganyctiphanes is diel vertical migration (DVM), i.e., a rising from depth at dusk and a return to depth at dawn. In this and other euphausiids, an endogenous circadian pacemaker is thought, at least in part, to control DVM. Currently, there is no information concerning the identity of the genes/proteins that comprise the M. norvegica circadian system. In fact, there is little information concerning the molecular underpinnings of circadian rhythmicity in crustaceans generally. Here, a publicly accessible transcriptome was used to identify the molecular components of a putative Meganyctiphanes circadian system. A complete set of core clock proteins was deduced from the M. norvegica transcriptome (clock, cryptochrome 2, cycle, period and timeless), as was a large suite of proteins that likely function as modulators of the core clock (e.g., doubletime), or serves as inputs to it (cryptochrome 1) or outputs from it (pigment dispersing hormone). This is the first description of a “complete” (core clock through putative output pathway signals) euphausiid clock system, and as such, provides a foundation for initiating molecular investigations of circadian signaling in M. norvegica and other krill species, including how clock systems may regulate DVM and other behaviors.