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No therapies have been shown to accelerate recovery or prevent fibrosis after acute kidney injury (AKI). In part, this is because most therapeutic candidates have to be given at the time of injury and the diagnosis of AKI is usually made too late for drugs to be efficacious. Strategies to enhance post-AKI repair represent an attractive approach to address this. Using a phenotypic screen in zebrafish, we identified 4-(phenylthio)butanoic acid (PTBA), which promotes proliferation of embryonic kidney progenitor cells (EKPCs), and the PTBA methyl ester UPHD25, which also increases postinjury repair in ischemia-reperfusion and aristolochic acid-induced AKI in mice. In these studies, a new panel of PTBA analogs was evaluated. Initial screening was performed in zebrafish EKPC assays followed by survival assays in a gentamicin-induced AKI larvae zebrafish model. Using this approach, we identified UPHD186, which in contrast to UPHD25, accelerates recovery and reduces fibrosis when administered several days after ischemia-reperfusion AKI and reduces fibrosis after unilateral ureteric obstruction in mice. UPHD25 and 186 are efficiently metabolized to the active analog PTBA in liver and kidney microsome assays, indicating both compounds may act as PTBA prodrugs in vivo. UPHD186 persists longer in the circulation than UPHD25, suggesting that sustained levels of UPHD186 may increase efficacy by acting as a reservoir for renal metabolism to PTBA. These findings validate use of zebrafish EKPC and AKI assays as a drug discovery strategy for molecules that reduce fibrosis in multiple AKI models and can be administered days after initiation of injury.
Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society.
Some vertebrate species have evolved means of extending their visual sensitivity beyond the range of human vision. One mechanism of enhancing sensitivity to long-wavelength light is to replace the 11-cis retinal chromophore in photopigments with 11-cis 3,4-didehydroretinal. Despite over a century of research on this topic, the enzymatic basis of this perceptual switch remains unknown. Here, we show that a cytochrome P450 family member, Cyp27c1, mediates this switch by converting vitamin A1 (the precursor of 11-cis retinal) into vitamin A2 (the precursor of 11-cis 3,4-didehydroretinal). Knockout of cyp27c1 in zebrafish abrogates production of vitamin A2, eliminating the animal's ability to red-shift its photoreceptor spectral sensitivity and reducing its ability to see and respond to near-infrared light. Thus, the expression of a single enzyme mediates dynamic spectral tuning of the entire visual system by controlling the balance of vitamin A1 and A2 in the eye.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Glucagon antagonism is a potential treatment for diabetes. One potential side effect is α-cell hyperplasia, which has been noted in several approaches to antagonize glucagon action. To investigate the molecular mechanism of the α-cell hyperplasia and to identify the responsible factor, we created a zebrafish model in which glucagon receptor (gcgr) signaling has been interrupted. The genetically and chemically tractable zebrafish, which provides a robust discovery platform, has two gcgr genes (gcgra and gcgrb) in its genome. Sequence, phylogenetic, and synteny analyses suggest that these are co-orthologs of the human GCGR. Similar to its mammalian counterparts, gcgra and gcgrb are mainly expressed in the liver. We inactivated the zebrafish gcgra and gcgrb using transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN) first individually and then both genes, and assessed the number of α-cells using an α-cell reporter line, Tg(gcga:GFP). Compared to WT fish at 7 days postfertilization, there were more α-cells in gcgra-/-, gcgrb-/-, and gcgra-/-;gcgrb-/- fish and there was an increased rate of α-cell proliferation in the gcgra-/-;gcgrb-/- fish. Glucagon levels were higher but free glucose levels were lower in gcgra-/-, gcgrb-/-, and gcgra-/-;gcgrb-/- fish, similar to Gcgr-/- mice. These results indicate that the compensatory α-cell hyperplasia in response to interruption of glucagon signaling is conserved in zebrafish. The robust α-cell hyperplasia in gcgra-/-;gcgrb-/- larvae provides a platform to screen for chemical and genetic suppressors, and ultimately to identify the stimulus of α-cell hyperplasia and its signaling mechanism.
© 2015 Society for Endocrinology.
Increased insulin demand resulting from insulin resistance and/or overnutrition induces a compensatory increase in β-cell mass. The physiological factors responsible for the compensation have not been fully characterized. In zebrafish, overnutrition rapidly induces compensatory β-cell differentiation through triggering the release of a paracrine signal from persistently activated β-cells. We identified Fgf1 signaling as a key component of the overnutrition-induced β-cell differentiation signal in a small molecule screen. Fgf1 was confirmed as the overnutrition-induced β-cell differentiation signal, as inactivation of fgf1 abolished the compensatory β-cell differentiation. Furthermore, expression of human FGF1 solely in β-cells in fgf1(-/-) animals rescued the compensatory response, indicating that β-cells can be the source of FGF1. Additionally, constitutive secretion of FGF1 with an exogenous signal peptide increased β-cell number in the absence of overnutrition. These results demonstrate that fgf1 is necessary and FGF1 expression in β-cells is sufficient for the compensatory β-cell differentiation. We further show that FGF1 is secreted during prolonged activation of cultured mammalian β-cells and that endoplasmic reticulum stress acts upstream of FGF1 release. Thus, the recently discovered antidiabetes function of FGF1 may act partially through increasing β-cell differentiation.
© 2016 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered.
Attractive growth cone turning requires Igf2bp1-dependent local translation of β-actin mRNA in response to external cues in vitro. While in vivo studies have shown that Igf2bp1 is required for cell migration and axon terminal branching, a requirement for Igf2bp1 function during axon outgrowth has not been demonstrated. Using a timelapse assay in the zebrafish retinotectal system, we demonstrate that the β-actin 3'UTR is sufficient to target local translation of the photoconvertible fluorescent protein Kaede in growth cones of pathfinding retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in vivo. Igf2bp1 knockdown reduced RGC axonal outgrowth and tectal coverage and retinal cell survival. RGC-specific expression of a phosphomimetic Igf2bp1 reduced the density of axonal projections in the optic tract while sparing RGCs, demonstrating for the first time that Igf2bp1 is required during axon outgrowth in vivo. Therefore, regulation of local translation mediated by Igf2bp proteins may be required at all stages of axon development.
Several strategies have been developed to generate targeted gene disruptions in zebrafish.Here we developed a simple targeted gene inactivation strategy in zebrafish using a clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein (Cas) system. By injecting two simple in vitro-synthesized components [Cas9 mRNA and single guide (sgRNA)] into one-cell-stage embryos, mutations of the target gene could be efficiently generated. We used a codon-optimized version of Cas9 to improve its translation efficiency in zebrafish. In addition, we designed a cloning-free strategy to facilitate the synthesis of sgRNA. The system allows biallelic inactivation of multiple genes simultaneously by co-injecting a mix of sgRNAs with a single Cas9 construct. This flexible strategy of gene inactivation provides an efficient way to interrogate gene functions and genetic interactions in zebrafish.
Sexually mature zebrafish were housed as single male-female pairs with or without plastic vegetation for 1, 5, or 10 d for comparison of whole-body cortisol measured by radioimmunoassay. Individually housed male zebrafish were used as controls. In the fish that were pair-housed without vegetation (NVeg), one animal died in 5 of 24 pairs, and one animal was alive but wounded in an additional pair. No deaths or wounds occurred in the fish that were pair-housed with vegetation (Veg). Cortisol levels did not differ between the treatment groups on day 1. On day 5, cortisol values were higher in the Veg group than in the individually housed fish (P < 0.0005) and the NVeg fish (P = 0.004). On day 10, the relationships were inversed: cortisol levels had risen in the individually housed and NVeg groups and had fallen to baseline levels in the Veg group. Cortisol values on day 10 were lower in the Veg group than in the individually housed (P = 0.004) and NVeg (P = 0.05) groups. Cortisol levels in individually housed male zebrafish increased over time. Although this study did not demonstrate a reduction in cortisol levels associated with providing vegetation, this enrichment prevented injury and death from fighting. These findings show how commonly used housing situations may affect the wellbeing of laboratory zebrafish.
αA- and αB-crystallins are small heat shock proteins that bind thermodynamically destabilized proteins thereby inhibiting their aggregation. Highly expressed in the mammalian lens, the α-crystallins have been postulated to play a critical role in the maintenance of lens optical properties by sequestering age-damaged proteins prone to aggregation as well as through a multitude of roles in lens epithelial cells. Here, we have examined the role of α-crystallins in the development of the vertebrate zebrafish lens. For this purpose, we have carried out morpholino-mediated knockdown of αA-, αBa- and αBb-crystallin and characterized the gross morphology of the lens. We observed lens abnormalities, including increased reflectance intensity, as a consequence of the interference with expression of these proteins. These abnormalities were less frequent in transgenic zebrafish embryos expressing rat αA-crystallin suggesting a specific role of α-crystallins in embryonic lens development. To extend and confirm these findings, we generated an αA-crystallin knockout zebrafish line. A more consistent and severe lens phenotype was evident in maternal/zygotic αA-crystallin mutants compared to those observed by morpholino knockdown. The penetrance of the lens phenotype was reduced by transgenic expression of rat αA-crystallin and its severity was attenuated by maternal αA-crystallin expression. These findings demonstrate that the role of α-crystallins in lens development is conserved from mammals to zebrafish and set the stage for using the embryonic lens as a model system to test mechanistic aspects of α-crystallin chaperone activity and to develop strategies to fine-tune protein-protein interactions in aging and cataracts.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The use of CRISPR/Cas9 as a genome-editing tool in various model organisms has radically changed targeted mutagenesis. Here, we present a high-throughput targeted mutagenesis pipeline using CRISPR/Cas9 technology in zebrafish that will make possible both saturation mutagenesis of the genome and large-scale phenotyping efforts. We describe a cloning-free single-guide RNA (sgRNA) synthesis, coupled with streamlined mutant identification methods utilizing fluorescent PCR and multiplexed, high-throughput sequencing. We report germline transmission data from 162 loci targeting 83 genes in the zebrafish genome, in which we obtained a 99% success rate for generating mutations and an average germline transmission rate of 28%. We verified 678 unique alleles from 58 genes by high-throughput sequencing. We demonstrate that our method can be used for efficient multiplexed gene targeting. We also demonstrate that phenotyping can be done in the F1 generation by inbreeding two injected founder fish, significantly reducing animal husbandry and time. This study compares germline transmission data from CRISPR/Cas9 with those of TALENs and ZFNs and shows that efficiency of CRISPR/Cas9 is sixfold more efficient than other techniques. We show that the majority of published "rules" for efficient sgRNA design do not effectively predict germline transmission rates in zebrafish, with the exception of a GG or GA dinucleotide genomic match at the 5' end of the sgRNA. Finally, we show that predicted off-target mutagenesis is of low concern for in vivo genetic studies.
© 2015 Varshney et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.
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.