The medicinal leech is one of the most venerated model systems for the study of fundamental nervous system principles, ranging from single-cell excitability to complex sensorimotor integration. Yet, molecular analyses have yet to be extensively applied to complement the rich history of electrophysiological study that this animal has received. Here, we generated the first de novo transcriptome assembly from the entire central nervous system of Hirudo verbana, with the goal of providing a molecular resource, as well as to lay the foundation for a comprehensive discovery of genes fundamentally important for neural function. Our assembly generated 107,704 contigs from over 900 million raw reads. Of these 107,704 contigs, 39,047 (36%) were annotated using NCBI’s validated RefSeq sequence database. From this annotated central nervous system transcriptome, we began the process of curating genes related to nervous system function by identifying and characterizing 126 unique ion channel, receptor, transporter, and enzyme contigs. Additionally, we generated sequence counts to estimate the relative abundance of each identified ion channel and receptor contig in the transcriptome through Kallisto mapping. This transcriptome will serve as a valuable community resource for studies investigating the molecular underpinnings of neural function in leech and provide a reference for comparative analyses.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2018 Northcutt et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.