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The alternative splicing landscape of a coral reef fish during a marine heatwave
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  • Stanley Kin Nok Chan,
  • Sneha Suresh,
  • Philip Munday,
  • Tim Ravasi,
  • Moises Bernal,
  • Celia Schunter
Stanley Kin Nok Chan
The University of Hong Kong

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Sneha Suresh
The University of Hong Kong
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Philip Munday
James Cook University
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Tim Ravasi
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University
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Moises Bernal
Auburn University
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Celia Schunter
The University of Hong Kong
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Alternative splicing is a molecular mechanism that enables a single gene to encode multiple transcripts and proteins by post-transcriptional modification of pre-RNA molecules. Changes in the splicing scheme of genes can lead to modifications of the transcriptome and the proteome. This mechanism can enable organisms to respond to environmental fluctuations. In this study, we investigated patterns of alternative splicing in the liver of the coral reef fish Acanthochromis polyacanthus in response to the 2016 marine heatwave on the Great Barrier Reef. The differentially spliced (DS; n=40) genes during the onset of the heatwave (i.e. 29.49°C or +1°C from average) were related to essential cellular functions such as the MAPK signaling system, Ca(2+) binding and homeostasis. With the persistence of the heatwave for a period of one month (February to March), 21 DS genes were detected, suggesting that acute warming during the onset of the heatwave is more influential on alternative splicing than the continued exposure to elevated temperatures. After the heatwave, the water temperature cooled to ~24.96°C, and fish showed differential splicing of genes related to cyto-protection and post-damage recovery (n=26). Two-thirds of the DS genes detected across the heatwave were also differentially expressed, revealing that the two molecular mechanisms act together in A. polyacanthus to cope with the acute thermal change. This study exemplifies how splicing patterns of a coral reef fish can be modified by marine heatwaves. Alternative splicing could therefore be a potential mechanism to adjust cellular physiological states under thermal stress and aid coral reef fishes in their response to more frequent acute thermal fluctuations in upcoming decades.
12 Nov 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
12 Nov 2021Submission Checks Completed
12 Nov 2021Assigned to Editor
22 Nov 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
18 Dec 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
07 Feb 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
23 Feb 20221st Revision Received
24 Feb 2022Submission Checks Completed
24 Feb 2022Assigned to Editor
24 Feb 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
25 Feb 2022Editorial Decision: Accept
Mar 2022Published in Ecology and Evolution volume 12 issue 3. 10.1002/ece3.8738