Investigating trehalose synthesis genes after cold acclimation in the Antarctic nematode Panagrolaimus sp. DAW1
Panagrolaimus sp. DAW1 is a freeze-tolerant Antarctic nematode which survives extensive intracellular ice formation. The molecular mechanisms of this extreme adaptation are still poorly understood. We recently showed that desiccation-enhanced RNAi-soaking can be used - in conjunction with qPCR - to screen for phenotypes associated with reduced expression of candidate genes in Panagrolaimus sp. DAW1. Here we present the use of this approach to investigate the role of trehalose synthesis genes in this remarkable organism. Previous studies have showed that acclimating Panagrolaimus sp. DAW1 at 5 °C before freezing or desiccation substantially enhances survival. In this study the expression of tps-2 and other genes associated with trehalose metabolism, as well as lea-1, hsp-70 and gpx-1 in cold-acclimated and non-acclimated nematodes was analyzed using qPCR. Pd-tps-2 and Pd-lea-1 were significantly up-regulated after cold-acclimation, indicating an inducible expression in the cold-adaptation of Panagrolaimus sp. DAW1. The role of trehalose synthesis genes in Panagrolaimus sp. DAW1 was further investigated by RNAi. Compared to the controls, Pd-tps-2a(RNAi)-treated and cold-acclimated nematodes showed a significant decrease in mRNA, but no change in trehalose content or freezing survival. The involvement of two other trehalose synthesis genes (tps-2b and gob-1) was also investigated. These findings provide the first functional genomic investigation of trehalose synthesis genes in the non-model organism Panagrolaimus sp. DAW1. The presence of several trehalose synthesis genes with different RNAi sensitivities suggests the existence of multiple backup systems in Panagrolaimus sp. DAW1, underlining the importance of this sugar in preparation for freezing.
Authors: Seybold, Anna C., Wharton, David A., Thorne, Michael A.S. ORCID record for Michael A.S. Thorne, Marshall, Craig J.