Impact of Thermal Stress on Kidney-Specific Gene Expression in Farmed Regional and Imported Rainbow Trout
Seasonal water temperatures can be stressful for fish in aquaculture and can therefore negatively influence their welfare. Although the kidney is the crucial organ associated with the primary stress response, knowledge about the stress-modulated kidney transcriptome in salmonids is limited. In the present study, we used a comparative microarray approach to characterize the general gene expression profiles of rainbow trout trunk kidney after a 2-week acclimation to mild heat (23 °C) and cold stress (8 °C). Hypothesizing that local adaptation influences stress performance, we aimed to identify differences in the temperature-induced gene expression in the regional trout strain BORN, in addition to a common imported strain. Moderate temperature challenge provoked typical stress response clusters, including heat-shock proteins or cold-inducible factors, in addition to altered energy metabolism in trout kidney. Mild cold, in particular, enhanced renal protein degradation processes, as well as mRNA and protein synthesis, while it also triggered fatty acid biosynthesis. Mild heat led to cytoskeleton-stabilizing processes and might have facilitated cell damage and infection. Furthermore, both breeding lines used different strategies for energy provision, cellular defense, and cell death/survival pathways. As a main finding, the genes involved in energy provision showed generally higher transcript levels at both temperatures in BORN trout compared to imported trout, indicating adjusted metabolic rates under local environmental conditions. Altogether, this study provides a general overview of stress-induced transcriptional patterns in rainbow trout trunk kidney, in addition to identifying genes and networks that contribute to the robustness of the BORN strain. Our analyses suggest SERPINH1 and CIRBP as general marker genes for heat stress and cold stress in trout, respectively.