Comparative transcriptome analysis in the hepatopancreas of Helice tientsinensis exposed to the toxic metal cadmium

  • Zhengfei WangEmail author
  • Dan Tang
  • Linxia Sun
  • Xueling Shi
  • Ruobing Liu
  • Huayun Guo
  • Boping TangEmail author
Research Article



The mudflat crab Helice tientsinensis is one of the most commercially valuable species for crabmeat production due to its delicious taste. These crabs are mainly found in coastal wetland where they are seriously threatened by toxic heavy metal pollution. In crustaceans, the hepatopancreas is an important organ for detoxification, and metal toxic substances can be converted to non-toxic or less toxic compounds in this organ.


To develop a better understanding of the molecular response of H. tientsinensis to the toxic metal cadmium (Cd) and provide a molecular basis for the toxic metal tolerance of H. tientsinensis.


In this study, we performed comparative hepatopancreas transcriptome analysis between H. tientsinensis unexposed (as control) and exposed to the toxic metal Cd for 48 h.


We identified 1089 Cd stress significantly-upregulated and 1560 Cd stress significantly-downregulated unigenes. Functional categorization and annotation of these differentially-expressed genes (DEGs) demonstrated that the response to Cd stress in the hepatopancreas of H. tientsinensis mainly involves “antioxidant activity”, “detoxification”, “toxin degradation activity” and “immune system process”. In addition, five genes (ABCC1, NDUFAF5, ASTL, DES1, CYP27A) were identified as possible major targets for toxic metal tolerance.


This is the first time reporting that the response of H. tientsinensis to Cd exposure at the transcriptome level, and it lays the foundation for understanding the molecular mechanisms of the response of H. tientsinensis to environmental toxic metal stress.


Helice tientsinensis Cadmium stress Transcriptome Detoxification Toxic metal tolerance 



This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Number 31702014), and Doctoral Scientific Research Foundation of Yancheng Teachers University to ZFW, and Open Foundation of Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Bioresources of Saline Soils (Grant Number JKLBS2016007), and Jiangsu Province Undergraduate Training Programs for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to RBL and XLS.

Authors’ contributions

HYG, SLX, RBL, XLS and ZFW designed and conceived the experiment. BPT, ZFW, DT and LXS performed the data analysis and draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

Ethical approval

The sampling location was not privately-owned or protected, and field sampling did not involve protected species.

Supplementary material

13258_2018_774_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (7 kb)
Supplementary material 1—Figure S1. GO enrichment analysis (PDF 6 KB)
13258_2018_774_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (7 kb)
Supplementary material 2—Figure S2. KEGG enrichment analysis (PDF 7 KB)
13258_2018_774_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (146 kb)
Supplementary material 3—Figure S3. Agarose gel electrophoresis of qRT-PCR products from five specific DEGs. M: Marker; A: ASTL (Cd-treated); B: CYP27A (Cd-treated); C: NDUFAF5 (Cd-treated); D: DEGS (Cd-treated); E: ABCC1(control); a: ASTL (control); b: CYP27A (control); c: NDUFAF5 (control); d: DEGS (control); e: ABCC1(control) (PDF 145 KB)


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Copyright information

© The Genetics Society of Korea 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Bioresources of Saline Soils, Jiangsu Synthetic Innovation Center for Coastal Bio-agriculture, Jiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory of Coastal Wetland Bioresources and Environmental Protection, School of Ocean and Biological EngineeringYancheng Teachers UniversityYanchengChina

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