Candidate genes mediating magnetoreception in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).
Diverse animals use Earth's magnetic field in orientation and navigation, but little is known about the molecular mechanisms that underlie magnetoreception. Recent studies have focused on two possibilities: (i) magnetite-based receptors; and (ii) biochemical reactions involving radical pairs. We used RNA sequencing to examine gene expression in the brain of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) after exposure to a magnetic pulse known to disrupt magnetic orientation behaviour. We identified 181 differentially expressed genes, including increased expression of six copies of the frim gene, which encodes a subunit of the universal iron-binding and trafficking protein ferritin. Functions linked to the oxidative effects of free iron (e.g. oxidoreductase activity, transition metal ion binding, mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation) were also affected. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that a magnetic pulse alters or damages magnetite-based receptors and/or other iron-containing structures, which are subsequently repaired or replaced through processes involving ferritin. Additionally, some genes that function in the development and repair of photoreceptive structures (e.g. crggm3, purp, prl, gcip, crabp1 and pax6) were also differentially expressed, raising the possibility that a magnetic pulse might affect structures and processes unrelated to magnetite-based magnetoreceptors.
Fitak, RR; Wheeler, BR; Ernst, DA; Lohmann, KJ; Johnsen, S
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