Research Article

Involvement of the mitfa gene in the development of pigment cell in Japanese ornamental (Koi) carp (Cyprinus carpio L.)

Published: March 31, 2015
Genet. Mol. Res. 14 (1) : 2775-2784 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4238/2015.March.31.7
Cite this Article:
(2015). Involvement of the mitfa gene in the development of pigment cell in Japanese ornamental (Koi) carp (Cyprinus carpio L.). Genet. Mol. Res. 14(1): gmr4535. https://doi.org/10.4238/2015.March.31.7
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Abstract

A colored phenotype is an important feature of ornamental fish. In mammals, microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) was found to regulate the development of melanocytes. In this study, the mitfa cDNA was first cloned from the Japanese ornamental (Koi) carp (Cyprinus carpio L.), an important ornamental freshwater fish. The full-length cDNA of the mitfa gene contains 1634 bp, coding for 412 amino acids in Koi. The identity degree of mitfa amino acid sequences between the Koi carp and zebrafish is 92.9%. We tested the expression of the mitfa gene in several varieties of Koi using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and found that the mitfa gene is highly expressed in the skin tissues of the Taisho sanke and the Procypris merus. Interestingly, the mitfa gene was also expressed in the Kohaku and Yamabaki ogon, although melanocytes were not observed in the skin. Koi carp embryos were transparent and colorless, while after hatching, different types of pigment cells successively emerged in a fixed order. In Taisho sanke, melanocytes first appeared in the trunk at approximately 12 days of age. Subsequently, there was a large area of melanocytes by 30 days of age. The expression level of the mitfa mRNA was low in early embryos and newly hatched larvae, and increased to high levels in 30-day-old fry. The results show that the mitfa gene is involved in regulating fish body color in the development of both melanocytes and pigment cells.

A colored phenotype is an important feature of ornamental fish. In mammals, microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) was found to regulate the development of melanocytes. In this study, the mitfa cDNA was first cloned from the Japanese ornamental (Koi) carp (Cyprinus carpio L.), an important ornamental freshwater fish. The full-length cDNA of the mitfa gene contains 1634 bp, coding for 412 amino acids in Koi. The identity degree of mitfa amino acid sequences between the Koi carp and zebrafish is 92.9%. We tested the expression of the mitfa gene in several varieties of Koi using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and found that the mitfa gene is highly expressed in the skin tissues of the Taisho sanke and the Procypris merus. Interestingly, the mitfa gene was also expressed in the Kohaku and Yamabaki ogon, although melanocytes were not observed in the skin. Koi carp embryos were transparent and colorless, while after hatching, different types of pigment cells successively emerged in a fixed order. In Taisho sanke, melanocytes first appeared in the trunk at approximately 12 days of age. Subsequently, there was a large area of melanocytes by 30 days of age. The expression level of the mitfa mRNA was low in early embryos and newly hatched larvae, and increased to high levels in 30-day-old fry. The results show that the mitfa gene is involved in regulating fish body color in the development of both melanocytes and pigment cells.