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In JoVE (1)
Other Publications (6)
Articles by Evyn Loucks in JoVE
Assessing Teratogenic Changes in a Zebrafish Model of Fetal Alcohol Exposure
Evyn Loucks1, Sara Ahlgren1,2
1Program in Developmental Biology, Children's Memorial Research Center, 2Department of Pediatrics, Northwestern University
In order to understand the molecular mechanisms of the ethanol-induced developmental damage, we have developed a zebrafish model of ethanol exposure and are exploring the physical, cellular, and genetic alterations that occur after ethanol exposure1. We then seek to find potential interventions and rapidly test them in this animal model.
Other articles by Evyn Loucks on PubMed
Neurotoxicology and Teratology. Nov-Dec, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15451039
Developmental ethanol exposure from maternal consumption of alcoholic beverages and many other consumer products has been linked to developmental abnormalities in humans and animal models. The sensitivity of an individual to ethanol-induced perturbation of developmental processes is strongly influenced by genetic factors. In this study, we show that there are strain- and dose-dependent differences in sensitivity to developmental ethanol exposure in zebrafish (Danio rerio), suggesting that genetic variation within regulatory factors, influencing critical developmental pathways, is responsible for these differences. Embryos/larvae from genetically distinct strains of zebrafish [Ekkwill (EK), AB, and Tuebingen (TU)] were treated with different concentrations of ethanol. Embryo/larval survival, neurocranial and craniofacial skeletal development, and CNS cell death were analyzed. EK was the most resistant strain to the embryolethal effects of ethanol exposure but had the greatest increase in ethanol-induced cell death. AB survival was affected moderately, as were the neurocranial and craniofacial skeletal structures and ethanol-induced cell death. TU had the lowest survival rate but was the most resistant to alterations in neurocranial and craniofacial skeletal elements. No single strain is the most sensitive or the most resistant to any of the phenotypes examined, suggesting that alcohol influences each of these pathways independently. Further analysis of the molecular and biochemical pathways underlying the strain-dependent differences reported herein could lead to a significant advancement in our mechanistic understanding of the teratogenic effects of ethanol in humans.
Neurotoxicology and Teratology. Nov-Dec, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15451040
Exposure to ethanol during development can lead to a constellation of congenital anomalies, resulting in prenatal and postnatal failure to thrive, central nervous system (CNS) deficits, and a number of patterning defects that lead to defects in the cardiovascular system, facial structures, and limbs. The cellular, biochemical, and molecular mechanisms by which ethanol exerts its developmental toxicity and the genes that influence sensitivity to developmental ethanol exposure have yet to be discovered, despite being one of the more common nongenetic causes of birth defects. The zebrafish undergoes much the same patterning and morphogenesis as other vertebrate embryos do--including humans--that are distinct and cannot be studied in invertebrates. Developmental processes in zebrafish are affected by ethanol exposure in a dose-dependent manner, resulting in learning and memory deficits, cell death in the CNS, skeletal dysmorphogenesis, and alterations in startle reflex responses. Interestingly, significant ethanol effects on learning and behavioral endpoints occurred at concentrations well below those that induced cell death in the CNS. This work provides the foundation for identifying genes and pathways involved in developmental alcohol toxicity in vertebrates, leading to a more complete mechanistic understanding of fetal alcohol disorders in humans.
Birth Defects Research. Part A, Clinical and Molecular Teratology. Sep, 2007 | Pubmed ID: 17647295
Exposure of zebrafish embryos to a number of teratogens results in cyclopia, but little is known about the underlying molecular changes.
Birth Defects Research. Part A, Clinical and Molecular Teratology. Jun, 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19235835
The phenotype of embryos exposed to ethanol is complex and likely due to multiple alterations in developmental pathways. We have previously demonstrated that Sonic hedgehog signaling (Shh-s) was reduced in both chicken and zebrafish embryos when exposed to ethanol.
Visualization of Gli Activity in Craniofacial Tissues of Hedgehog-pathway Reporter Transgenic Zebrafish
PloS One. 2010 | Pubmed ID: 21203590
The Hedgehog (Hh)-signaling pathway plays a crucial role in the development and maintenance of multiple vertebrate and invertebrate organ systems. Gli transcription factors are regulated by Hh-signaling and act as downstream effectors of the pathway to activate Hh-target genes. Understanding the requirements for Hh-signaling in organisms can be gained by assessing Gli activity in a spatial and temporal fashion.
Journal of Lipid Research. Jul, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21576600
Niemann-Pick disease, type C (NP-C), often associated with Niemann-Pick disease, type C1 (NPC1) mutations, is a cholesterol-storage disorder characterized by cellular lipid accumulation, neurodegeneration, and reduced steroid production. To study NPC1 function in vivo, we cloned zebrafish npc1 and analyzed its gene expression and activity by reducing Npc1 protein with morpholino (MO)-oligonucleotides. Filipin staining in npc1-morphant cells was punctate, suggesting abnormal accumulation of cholesterol. Developmentally, reducing Npc1 did not disrupt early cell fate or survival; however, early morphogenetic movements were delayed, and the actin cytoskeleton network was abnormal. MO-induced defects were rescued with ectopic expression of mouse NPC1, demonstrating functional gene conservation, and by treatments with steroids pregnenolone or dexamethasone, suggesting that reduced steroidogenesis contributed to abnormal cell movements. Cell death was found in anterior tissues of npc1 morphants at later stages, consistent with findings in mammals. Collectively, these studies show that npc1 is required early for proper cell movement and cholesterol localization and later for cell survival.