Identification of anMITFgene and its polymorphisms associated with theVibrioresistance trait in the clamMeretrix petechialis

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Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) regulates the transcription of its target genes by binding to their promoters. In this study, an MITF gene, MpMITF was identified in the clam Meretrix petechialis. The full-length cDNA of MpMITF is 3564 bp with an ORF of 1365 bp. The deduced amino acid sequence consists of a conserved functional structure of bHLH-LZ, which could bind with E-box. The mRNA and protein expression levels of MpMITF were significantly up-regulated 6 h post-Vibrio injection. The mRNA expression of MpMITF increased on day 2 and peaked on day 10 post-Vibrio immersion. Furthermore, MpMITF expression was significantly up-regulated in most resistant families of clams (P < 0.05) but did not change significantly in most susceptive families of clams after the Vibrio immersion challenge. These results suggest that, in clams, MpMITF participates in the immune response against a Vibrio infection. Genotyping in two clam groups with different resistant levels to Vibrio parahaemolyticus (i.e., 11-R and 11-S), thirteen SNPs and five haplotypes were detected in the DNA sequence of MpMITF, of which five SNPs and two haplotypes were associated with Vibrio resistance. Four SNPs (SNP2, 5, 6 and 13) and one haplotype (Hap1) were further confirmed to be associated with Vibrio resistance in M. petechialis by association analysis in different clam families. This study deepens the understanding of MITF in marine bivalves and provides potential candidate markers for resistance selection in the clam M. petechialis.

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