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Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease such as simple steatosis, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis and fibrosis. However, the molecular pathogenesis and genetic variations causing NAFLD are poorly understood. The high prevalence and incidence of NAFLD suggests that genetic variations on a large number of genes might be involved in NAFLD. To identify genetic variants causing inherited liver disease, we used zebrafish as a model system for a large-scale mutant screen, and adopted a whole genome sequencing approach for rapid identification of mutated genes found in our screen. Here, we report on a forward genetic screen of ENU mutagenized zebrafish. From 250 F2 lines of ENU mutagenized zebrafish during post-developmental stages (5 to 8 days post fertilization), we identified 19 unique mutant zebrafish lines displaying visual evidence of hepatomegaly and/or steatosis with no developmental defects. Histological analysis of mutants revealed several specific phenotypes, including common steatosis, micro/macrovesicular steatosis, hepatomegaly, ballooning, and acute hepatocellular necrosis. This work has identified multiple post-developmental mutants and establishes zebrafish as a novel animal model for post-developmental inherited liver disease.
C57BL/6J mice carrying the Min allele of Adenomatous polyposis coli (Apc) develop numerous adenomas along the entire length of the intestine and consequently die at an early age. This short lifespan would prevent the accumulation of somatic genetic mutations or epigenetic alterations necessary for tumor progression. To overcome this limitation, we generated F(1) Apc(Min/+) hybrids by crossing C57BR/cdcJ and SWR/J females to C57BL/6J Apc(Min/+) males. These hybrids developed few intestinal tumors and often lived longer than 1 year. Many of the tumors (24-87%) were invasive adenocarcinomas, in which neoplastic tissue penetrated through the muscle wall into the mesentery. In a few cases (3%), lesions metastasized by extension to regional lymph nodes. The development of these familial cancers does not require chromosomal gains or losses, a high level of microsatellite instability, or the presence of Helicobacter. To test whether genetic instability might accelerate tumor progression, we generated Apc(Min/+) mice homozygous for the hypomorphic allele of the Nijmegen breakage syndrome gene (Nbs1(DeltaB)) and also treated Apc(Min/+) mice with a strong somatic mutagen. These imposed genetic instabilities did not reduce the time required for cancers to form nor increase the percentage of cancers nor drive progression to the point of distant metastasis. In summary, we have found that the Apc(Min/+) mouse model for familial intestinal cancer can develop frequent invasive cancers in the absence of overt genomic instability. Possible factors that promote invasion include age-dependent epigenetic changes, conservative somatic recombination, or direct effects of alleles in the F(1) hybrid genetic background.
A screen of recessive mutations generated by the chemical mutagen n-ethyl-n-nitrosourea (ENU) mapped a new mutant locus (5772SB) termed sudden juvenile death syndrome (sjds) to chromosome 7 in mice. These mutant mice, which exhibit severe proximal tubule injury and formation of giant vacuoles in the renal cortex, die from renal failure, a phenotype that resembles aquaporin 11 (Aqp11) knockout mice. In this report, the ENU-induced single-nucleotide variant (sjds mutation) is identified. To determine whether this variant, which causes an amino acid substitution (Cys227Ser) in the predicted E-loop region of aquaporin 11, is responsible for the sjds lethal renal phenotype, Aqp11-/sjds compound heterozygous mice were generated from Aqp11 +/sjds and Aqp11 +/- intercrosses. The compound heterozygous Aqp11 -/sjds offspring exhibited a lethal renal phenotype (renal failure by 2 wk), similar to the Aqp11 sjds/sjds and Aqp11-/- phenotypes. These results demonstrate that the identified mutation causes renal failure in Aqp11 sjds/sjds mutant mice, providing a model for better understanding of the structure and function of aquaporin 11 in renal physiology.
Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is a late diabetic complication that comprises progressively increasing albuminuria, declining GFR, and increased cardiovascular risk. Only a minority of patients with diabetes (25 to 40%) develop nephropathy, and there is evidence that heritable genetic factors predispose these "at-risk" individuals to DN. Comparing variability among inbred mouse strains with respect to a specific phenotype can model interhuman variability, and each strain represents a genetically homogeneous system with a defined risk for nephropathy. C57BL/6 mice, which are relatively resistant to DN, were mutagenized using N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea and screened for mutants that developed excess albuminuria on a sensitizing type 1 diabetic background contributed by the dominant Akita mutation in insulin-2 gene (Ins2(Akita)). Two of 375 diabetic G1 founders were found to exhibit albumin excretion rates persistently 10-fold greater than albumin excretion rates in nonmutagenized Ins2(Akita) controls. This albuminuria trait was heritable and transmitted to approximately 50% of Ins2(Akita) G2 and G3 progeny, consistent with a simple, dominantly inherited trait, but was never observed in nondiabetic offspring. During the course of 1 yr, albuminuric Ins2(Akita) G2 and G3 progeny developed reduced inulin clearance with elevated blood urea nitrogen and plasma creatinine. Glomerular histology revealed mesangial expansion, and glomerular basement membrane thickening as determined by electron microscopy was enhanced in diabetic mutant kidneys. Hereditary albuminuric N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea-induced mutants were redesignated as Nphrp1 (nephropathy1) and Nphrp2 (nephropathy2) mice for two generated lines. These novel mutants provide new, robust mouse models of DN and should help to elucidate the underlying genetic basis of predisposition to DN.
The visual system converts the distribution and wavelengths of photons entering the eye into patterns of neuronal activity, which then drive motor and endocrine behavioral responses. The gene products important for visual processing by a living and behaving vertebrate animal have not been identified in an unbiased fashion. Likewise, the genes that affect development of the nervous system to shape visual function later in life are largely unknown. Here we have set out to close this gap in our understanding by using a forward genetic approach in zebrafish. Moving stimuli evoke two innate reflexes in zebrafish larvae, the optomotor and the optokinetic response, providing two rapid and quantitative tests to assess visual function in wild-type (WT) and mutant animals. These behavioral assays were used in a high-throughput screen, encompassing over half a million fish. In almost 2,000 F2 families mutagenized with ethylnitrosourea, we discovered 53 recessive mutations in 41 genes. These new mutations have generated a broad spectrum of phenotypes, which vary in specificity and severity, but can be placed into only a handful of classes. Developmental phenotypes include complete absence or abnormal morphogenesis of photoreceptors, and deficits in ganglion cell differentiation or axon targeting. Other mutations evidently leave neuronal circuits intact, but disrupt phototransduction, light adaptation, or behavior-specific responses. Almost all of the mutants are morphologically indistinguishable from WT, and many survive to adulthood. Genetic linkage mapping and initial molecular analyses show that our approach was effective in identifying genes with functions specific to the visual system. This collection of zebrafish behavioral mutants provides a novel resource for the study of normal vision and its genetic disorders.
Infection of mice with Moloney murine leukaemia virus (MuLV) induces T-cell lymphomas after an average latency period of 150 days. In these lymphomas the MuLV DNA is frequently integrated into the mouse chromosomal DNA in the vicinity of the pim-1 oncogene. Transgenic mice overexpressing the pim-1 oncogene are predisposed to develop T-cell lymphomas, but only to the extent that approximately 10% of the mice develop a lymphoma within 240 days. When these mice are infected with MuLV, lymphomas develop in all mice in only 50-60 days. In these lymphomas MuLV DNA is integrated near either the c-myc or N-myc gene, suggesting that pim-1 and myc synergize in lymphomagenesis. To determine whether this system has a more general application, we have now tested the susceptibility of pim-1 transgenic mice to N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU), a chemical carcinogen. With a single low dose of ENU, nearly all pim-1 transgenic mice, but only 15% of non-transgenic mice, develop T-cell lymphomas within 200 days. All ENU-induced lymphomas in both pim-1 transgenic and non-transgenic mice express high levels of c-myc messenger RNA, supporting the notion that pim-1 and c-myc synergize in lymphoma induction. We propose that pim-1 transgenic mice could be used to test the oncogenic potential of other chemical compounds.
Transgenic mice overexpressing the pim-1 oncogene in their lymphoid compartments are predisposed to T-cell lymphomagenesis but only to the extent that approximately 10% of the transgenic mice develop lymphomas within 34 weeks after birth. Recently, we have shown that lymphomagenesis in pim-1 transgenic mice can be accelerated by infecting pim-1 transgenic mice with murine leukemia viruses or by treating the mice with a relatively low dose of 60 mg of the carcinogen N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU) per kg of body weight. Here we describe the incidence of tumors as a function of the dose of ENU. Either 200, 15, 4, 1, or 0.1 mg/kg ENU was injected into transgenic and control mice and the tumor incidence was monitored. T-cell lymphomas developed in 100 and 70% of the pim-1 transgenic mice treated with 200 and 15 mg/kg ENU, respectively. Approximately 20% of the Emu-pim-1 transgenic mice developed lymphomas after treatment with either 4, 1, or 0.1 mg/kg ENU. The nontransgenic mice developed lymphomas only after injection with 200 mg/kg (45%). The data show that Emu-pim-1 transgenic mice are approximately 25-fold more susceptible to ENU-induced lymphomagenesis than control mice. In most tumors the expression of c-myc was strongly elevated, probably as a direct or indirect effect of ENU. Analysis of the lymphomas for ras mutations revealed that approximately 10% of the lymphomas bear a ras mutation. The data indicate that at least some of these mutations are not the direct result of alkylation by ENU but rather represent spontaneous mutations that occurred later in the tumorigenic process.