Animals respond to whole-field visual motion with compensatory eye and body movements in order to stabilize both their gaze and position with respect to their surroundings. In zebrafish, rotational stimuli need to be distinguished from translational stimuli to drive the optokinetic and the optomotor responses, respectively. Here, we systematically characterize the neural circuits responsible for these operations using a combination of optogenetic manipulation and in vivo calcium imaging during optic flow stimulation. By recording the activity of thousands of neurons within the area pretectalis (APT), we find four bilateral pairs of clusters that process horizontal whole-field motion and functionally classify eleven prominent neuron types with highly selective response profiles. APT neurons are prevalently direction selective, either monocularly or binocularly driven, and hierarchically organized to distinguish between rotational and translational optic flow. Our data predict a wiring diagram of a neural circuit tailored to drive behavior that compensates for self-motion.
Myc proteins control cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, and apoptosis, and play important roles in cancer as well in establishment of pluripotency. Here we investigated the control of myc gene expression by the Pou5f1/Oct4 pluripotency factor in the early zebrafish embryo. We analyzed the expression of all known zebrafish Myc family members, myca, mycb, mych, mycl1a, mycl1b, and mycn, by whole mount in situ hybridization during blastula and gastrula stages in wildtype and maternal plus zygotic pou5f1 mutant (MZspg) embryos, as well as by quantitative PCR and in time series microarray data. We found that the broad blastula and gastrula stage mych expression, as well as late gastrula stage mycl1b expression, both depend on Pou5f1 activity. We analyzed ChIP-Seq data and found that both Pou5f1 and Sox2 bind to mych and mycl1b control regions. The regulation of mych by Pou5f1 appears to be direct transcriptional activation, as overexpression of a Pou5f1 activator fusion protein in MZspg embryos induced strong mych expression even when translation of zygotically expressed mRNAs was suppressed. We further showed that MZspg embryos develop enhanced apoptosis already during early gastrula stages, when apoptosis was not be detected in wildtype embryos. However, Mych knockdown alone did not induce early apoptosis, suggesting potentially redundant action of several early expressed myc genes, or combination of several pathways affected in MZspg. Experimental mych overexpression in MZspg embryos did significantly, but not completely suppress the apoptosis phenotype. Similarly, p53 knockdown only partially suppressed apoptosis in MZspg gastrula embryos. However, combined knockdown of p53 and overexpression of Mych completely rescued the MZspg apoptosis phenotype. These results reveal that Mych has anti-apoptotic activity in the early zebrafish embryo, and that p53-dependent and Myc pathways are likely to act in parallel to control apoptosis at these stages.
Epiboly is the first coordinated cell movement in most vertebrates and marks the onset of gastrulation. During zebrafish epiboly, enveloping layer (EVL) and deep cells spread over the vegetal yolk mass with a concomitant thinning of the deep cell layer. A prevailing model suggests that deep cell radial intercalations directed towards the EVL would drive deep cell epiboly. To test this model, we have globally recorded 3D cell trajectories for zebrafish blastomeres between sphere and 50% epiboly stages, and developed an image analysis framework to determine intercalation events, intercalation directionality, and migration speed for cells at specific positions within the embryo. This framework uses Voronoi diagrams to compute cell-to-cell contact areas, defines a feature-based spatio-temporal model for intercalation events and fits an anatomical coordinate system to the recorded datasets. We further investigate whether epiboly defects in MZspg mutant embryos devoid of Pou5f1/Oct4 may be caused by changes in intercalation behavior. In wild-type and mutant embryos, intercalations orthogonal to the EVL occur with no directional bias towards or away from the EVL, suggesting that there are no directional cues that would direct intercalations towards the EVL. Further, we find that intercalation direction is independent of the previous intercalation history of individual deep cells, arguing against cues that would program specific intrinsic directed migration behaviors. Our data support a dynamic model in which deep cells during epiboly migrate into space opening between the EVL and the yolk syncytial layer. Genetic programs determining cell motility may control deep cell dynamic behavior and epiboly progress.
The development of multicellular animals is initially controlled by maternal gene products deposited in the oocyte. During the maternal-to-zygotic transition, transcription of zygotic genes commences, and developmental control starts to be regulated by zygotic gene products. In Drosophila, the transcription factor Zelda specifically binds to promoters of the earliest zygotic genes and primes them for activation. It is unknown whether a similar regulation exists in other animals. We found that zebrafish Pou5f1, a homolog of the mammalian pluripotency transcription factor Oct4, occupies SOX-POU binding sites before the onset of zygotic transcription and activates the earliest zygotic genes. Our data position Pou5f1 and SOX-POU sites at the center of the zygotic gene activation network of vertebrates and provide a link between zygotic gene activation and pluripotency control.
Due to the relative transparency of its embryos and larvae, the zebrafish is an ideal model organism for bioimaging approaches in vertebrates. Novel microscope technologies allow the imaging of developmental processes in unprecedented detail, and they enable the use of complex image-based read-outs for high-throughput/high-content screening. Such applications can easily generate Terabytes of image data, the handling and analysis of which becomes a major bottleneck in extracting the targeted information. Here, we describe the current state of the art in computational image analysis in the zebrafish system. We discuss the challenges encountered when handling high-content image data, especially with regard to data quality, annotation, and storage. We survey methods for preprocessing image data for further analysis, and describe selected examples of automated image analysis, including the tracking of cells during embryogenesis, heartbeat detection, identification of dead embryos, recognition of tissues and anatomical landmarks, and quantification of behavioral patterns of adult fish. We review recent examples for applications using such methods, such as the comprehensive analysis of cell lineages during early development, the generation of a three-dimensional brain atlas of zebrafish larvae, and high-throughput drug screens based on movement patterns. Finally, we identify future challenges for the zebrafish image analysis community, notably those concerning the compatibility of algorithms and data formats for the assembly of modular analysis pipelines.
Vertebrates respond to light with more than just their eyes. In this article, we speculate on the intriguing possibility that a link remains between non-visual opsins and neurohormonal systems that control neuronal circuit formation and activity in mammals. Historically, the retina and pineal gland were considered the only significant light-sensing tissues in vertebrates. However over the last century, evidence has accumulated arguing that extra-ocular tissues in vertebrates influence behavior through non-image-forming photoreception. One such class of extra-ocular light detectors are the long mysterious deep brain photoreceptors. Here, we review recent findings on the cellular identity and the function of deep brain photoreceptors controlling behavior and physiology in zebrafish, and discuss their implications.
In mammalian ES cells, the transcription factors Klf4 and Klf2 contribute to maintenance of pluripotency and self-renewal and are regulated by Pou5f1/Oct4. In the early zebrafish embryo Pou5f1/Oct4 is necessary for expression of three Klf2/4 family members, klf2a, klf2b and klf17 (previously klf4b), similar to the regulation reported for mammalian ES cells. In this study, we analyzed blastula and gastrula stage Klf regulatory networks and their influence on zebrafish embryonic patterning. We show that Pou5f1 acts in combination with region-specific factors to activate klf2a, klf2b, and klf17 in the superficial cell layer of the embryo. In addition, Pou5f1 acts together with the BMP signaling pathway to activate and maintain expression of klf2a and klf2b in a ventral ectodermal domain. We used microarray expression profiles of klf2a, klf2b and klf17 knockdown and overexpression embryos to identify Klf target genes, which reveals that Klfs participate in specification of the extraembryonic enveloping layer (EVL). We discuss mechanistic implications of simultaneous activation of transcriptional targets by ubiquitous, like Pou5f1, and region-specific inducers, emerging as a common regulatory motif in early development.
The ZEB1 transcription factor is best known as an inducer of epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMT) in cancer metastasis, acting through transcriptional repression of CDH1 (encoding E-cadherin) and the EMT-suppressing microRNA-200s (miR-200s). Here we analyze roles of the ZEB1 zebrafish orthologs, Zeb1a and Zeb1b, and of miR-200s in control of cell adhesion and morphogenesis during gastrulation and segmentation stages. Loss and gain of function analyses revealed that Zeb1 represses cdh1 expression to fine-tune adhesiveness of migrating deep blastodermal cells. Furthermore, Zeb1 acts as a repressor of epcam in the deep cells of the blastoderm and may contribute to control of epithelial integrity of enveloping layer cells, the outermost cells of the blastoderm. We found a similar ZEB1-dependent repression of EPCAM expression in human pancreatic and breast cancer cell lines, mediated through direct binding of ZEB1 to the EPCAM promoter. Thus, Zeb1 proteins employ several evolutionary conserved mechanisms to regulate cell-cell adhesion during development and cancer.
Precise spatiotemporal control of axon guidance factor expression is a prerequisite for formation of functional neuronal connections. Although Netrin/Dcc- and Robo/Slit-mediated attractive and repulsive guidance of commissural axons have been extensively studied, little is known about mechanisms controlling mediolateral positioning of longitudinal axons in vertebrates. Here, we use a genetic approach in zebrafish embryos to study pathfinding mechanisms of dopaminergic and neuroendocrine longitudinal axons projecting from the hypothalamus into hindbrain and spinal cord. The transcription factors Sim1a and Arnt2 contribute to differentiation of a defined population of dopaminergic and neuroendocrine neurons. We show that both factors also control aspects of axon guidance: Sim1a or Arnt2 depletion results in displacement of hypothalamo-spinal longitudinal axons towards the midline. This phenotype is suppressed in robo3 guidance receptor mutant embryos. In the absence of Sim1a and Arnt2, expression of the robo3 splice isoform robo3a.1 is increased in the hypothalamus, indicating negative control of robo3a.1 transcription by these factors. We further provide evidence that increased Robo3a.1 levels interfere with Robo2-mediated repulsive axon guidance. Finally, we show that the N-terminal domain unique to Robo3a.1 mediates the block of Robo2 repulsive activity. Therefore, Sim1a and Arnt2 contribute to control of lateral positioning of longitudinal hypothalamic-spinal axons by negative regulation of robo3a.1 expression, which in turn attenuates the repulsive activity of Robo2.
Initiation of motile cell behavior in embryonic development occurs during late blastula stages when gastrulation begins. At this stage, the strong adhesion of blastomeres has to be modulated to enable dynamic behavior, similar to epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions. We show that, in zebrafish maternal and zygotic (MZ)spg embryos mutant for the stem cell transcription factor Pou5f1/Oct4, which are severely delayed in the epiboly gastrulation movement, all blastomeres are defective in E-cadherin (E-cad) endosomal trafficking, and E-cad accumulates at the plasma membrane. We find that Pou5f1-dependent control of EGF expression regulates endosomal E-cad trafficking. EGF receptor may act via modulation of p120 activity. Loss of E-cad dynamics reduces cohesion of cells in reaggregation assays. Quantitative analysis of cell behavior indicates that dynamic E-cad endosomal trafficking is required for epiboly cell movements. We hypothesize that dynamic control of E-cad trafficking is essential to effectively generate new adhesion sites when cells move relative to each other.
We found that zebrafish has two differentially expressed col14a1 paralogs. col14a1a expression peaked between 18-somite stage and 24 hours postfertilization (hpf), whereas col14a1b was first expressed at 32 hpf. To uncover functions of collagen XIV (COLXIV) during early embryogenesis, we focused our study on col14a1a. We characterized the ?1 (XIV-A) chain as a collagenase-sensitive 200-kDa protein that formed dimer that could be reduced at high pH. As observed for the transcript, COLXIV-A protein expression peaked between 24 and 48 hpf. Using antisense probes and polyclonal antibodies, we show that col14a1a and its protein product COLXIV-A are transiently expressed in several epithelia, including epithelia undergoing shape changes, such as the fin folds. In contrast, anti-COLXII antibodies stained only connective tissues. COLXIV-A was also detected in the basement membrane (BM), where it co-localized with COLXII. At later developmental stages, COLXIV-A was not expressed in epithelia anymore but persisted in the BM. Morpholino knockdown of COLXIV-A provoked a skin detachment phenotype. Electron microscopy analysis revealed that morpholino-injected embryos lacked a lamina densa and lamina lucida at 24 hpf, and BM defects, such as gaps in the adepidermal granules, were still detected at 48 hpf. These BM defects were accompanied by a rupture of the dermis and detachment of the epidermis. Taken together, these data suggest an unexpected role of COLXIV-A in undifferentiated epithelia and in the formation of embryonic basement membranes.
The homeodomain transcription factor Orthopedia (Otp) is an important regulator for specification of defined subsets of neuroendocrine cells and dopaminergic neurons in vertebrates. In zebrafish, two paralogous otp genes, otpa and otpb, are present in the genome. Neither complete loss of Otp activity nor differential contributions of Otpa and Otpb to specification of defined neuronal populations have been analyzed in detail. We characterized zebrafish embryos and early larvae mutant for null alleles of otpa, otpb, or both genes to determine their individual contributions to the specification of th expressing dopaminergic neuronal populations as well as of crh, oxt, avp, trh or sst1.1 expressing neuroendocrine cells. otpa mutant larvae show an almost complete reduction of ventral diencephalic dopaminergic neurons, as reported previously. A small reduction in the number of trh cells in the preoptic region is detectable in otpa mutants, but no significant loss of crh, oxt and avp preoptic neuroendocrine cells. otpb single mutant larvae do not display a reduction in dopaminergic neurons or neuroendocrine cells in the otp expressing regions. In contrast, in otpa and otpb double mutant larvae specific groups of dopaminergic neurons as well as of crh, oxt, avp, trh and sst1.1-expressing neuroendocrine cells are completely lost. These observations suggest that the requirement for otpa and otpb function during development of the larval diencephalon is partially redundant. During evolutionary diversification of the paralogous otp genes, otpa maintained the prominent role in ventral diencephalic dopaminergic and neuroendocrine cell specification and is capable of partially compensating otpb loss of function. In addition, we identified a role of Otp in the development of a domain of somatostatin1-expressing cells in the rostral hindbrain, a region with strong otp expression but so far uncharacterized Otp function. Otp may thus be crucial for defined neuronal cell types also in the hindbrain.
Due to its transparency, virtually every brain structure of the larval zebrafish is accessible to light-based interrogation of circuit function. Advanced stimulation techniques allow the activation of optogenetic actuators at different resolution levels, and genetically encoded calcium indicators report the activity of a large proportion of neurons in the CNS. Large datasets result and need to be analyzed to identify cells that have specific properties-e.g., activity correlation to sensory stimulation or behavior. Advances in three-dimensional (3D) functional mapping in zebrafish are promising; however, the mere coordinates of implicated neurons are not sufficient. To comprehensively understand circuit function, these functional maps need to be placed into the proper context of morphological features and projection patterns, neurotransmitter phenotypes, and key anatomical landmarks. We discuss the prospect of merging functional and anatomical data in an integrated atlas from the perspective of our work on long-range dopaminergic neuromodulation and the oculomotor system. We propose that such a resource would help researchers to surpass current hurdles in circuit analysis to achieve an integrated understanding of anatomy and function.
We propose an algorithm for 3-D multiview deblurring using spatially variant point spread functions (PSFs). The algorithm is applied to multiview reconstruction of volumetric microscopy images. It includes registration and estimation of the PSFs using irregularly placed point markers (beads). We formulate multiview deblurring as an energy minimization problem subject to L1-regularization. Optimization is based on the regularized Lucy-Richardson algorithm, which we extend to deal with our more general model. The model parameters are chosen in a profound way by optimizing them on a realistic training set. We quantitatively and qualitatively compare with existing methods and show that our method provides better signal-to-noise ratio and increases the resolution of the reconstructed images.
In this study, we performed an in-depth analysis of the neurologic and ophthalmologic phenotype in a patient with Pitt-Hopkins syndrome (PTHS), a disorder characterized by severe mental and motor retardation, carrying a uniallelic TCF4 deletion, and studied a zebrafish model. The PTHS-patient was characterized by high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with diffusion tensor imaging to analyze the brain structurally, spectral-domain optical coherence tomography to visualize the retinal layers, and electroretinography to evaluate retinal function. A zebrafish model was generated by knockdown of tcf4-function by injection of morpholino antisense oligos into zebrafish embryos and the morphant phenotype was characterized for expression of neural differentiation genes neurog1, ascl1b, pax6a, zic1, atoh1a, atoh2b. Data from PTHS-patient and zebrafish morphants were compared. While a cerebral MRI-scan showed markedly delayed myelination and ventriculomegaly in the 1-year-old PTHS-patient, no structural cerebral anomalies including no white matter tract alterations were detected at 9 years of age. Structural ocular examinations showed highly myopic eyes and an increase in ocular length, while retinal layers were normal. Knockdown of tcf4-function in zebrafish embryos resulted in a developmental delay or defects in terminal differentiation of brain and eyes, small eyes with a relative increase in ocular length and an enlargement of the hindbrain ventricle. In summary, tcf4-knockdown in zebrafish embryos does not seem to affect early neural patterning and regionalization of the forebrain, but may be involved in later aspects of neurogenesis and differentiation. We provide evidence for a role of TCF4/E2-2 in ocular growth control in PTHS-patients and the zebrafish model.
Essential components of animal behaviour are modulated by dopaminergic (DA) and noradrenergic circuitry. In this study, we reveal at cellular resolution the complete set of projections (projectome) of every single type of DA and noradrenergio neurons in the central nervous system of zebrafish larvae. The most extensive DA projections are established by posterior tubercular otp-dependent neurons, with individual somata integrating the ascending DA system, the descending diencephalospinal, as well as the endohypothalamic circuitry. These findings suggest a major role in the modulation of physiology and behaviour for otp-dependent DA neurons, which correlate with the mammalian A11 group. We further identified an endogenous subpallial DA system that not only provides most of the local DA projections, but also connects to the ventral diencephalon. The catecholaminergic projectome map provides a framework to understand the evolution and function of these neuromodulatory systems.
Pou5f1/Oct-4 in mice is required for maintenance of embryonic pluripotent cell populations. Zebrafish pou5f1 maternal-zygotic mutant embryos (spiel ohne grenzen; MZspg) lack endoderm and have gastrulation and dorsoventral patterning defects. A contribution of Pou5f1 to the control of bmp2b, bmp4 and vox expression has been suggested, however the mechanisms remained unclear and are investigated in detail here. Low-level overexpression of a Pou5f1-VP16 activator fusion protein can rescue dorsalization in MZspg mutants, indicating that Pou5f1 acts as a transcriptional activator during dorsoventral patterning. Overexpression of larger quantities of Pou5f1-VP16 can ventralize wild-type embryos, while overexpression of a Pou5f1-En repressor fusion protein can dorsalize embryos. Lack of Pou5f1 causes a transient upregulation of fgf8a expression after mid-blastula transition, providing a mechanism for delayed activation of bmp2b in MZspg embryos. Overexpression of the Pou5f1-En repressor induces fgf8, suggesting an indirect mechanism of Pou5f1 control of fgf8a expression. Transcription of vox is strongly activated by Pou5f1-VP16 even when translation of zygotically expressed transcripts is experimentally inhibited by cycloheximide. In contrast, bmp2b and bmp4 are not activated under these conditions. We show that Pou5f1 binds to phylogenetically conserved Oct/Pou5f1 sites in the vox promoter, both in vivo (ChIP) and in vitro. Our data reveals a set of direct and indirect interactions of Pou5f1 with the BMP dorsoventral patterning network that serve to fine-tune dorsoventral patterning mechanisms and coordinate patterning with developmental timing.
Dopaminergic neurons develop at distinct anatomical sites to form some of the major neuromodulatory systems in the vertebrate brain. Despite their relevance in neurodegenerative diseases and the interests in reconstitutive therapies from stem cells, mechanisms of the neurogenic switch from precursor populations to dopaminergic neurons are not well understood. Here, we investigated neurogenesis of different dopaminergic and noradrenergic neuron populations in the zebrafish embryo. Birth-dating analysis by EdU (5-ethynyl-2-deoxyuridine) incorporation revealed temporal dynamics of catecholaminergic neurogenesis. Analysis of Notch signaling mutants and stage-specific pharmacological inhibition of Notch processing revealed that dopaminergic neurons form by temporally distinct mechanisms: dopaminergic neurons of the posterior tuberculum derive directly from neural plate cells during primary neurogenesis, whereas other dopaminergic groups form in continuous or wavelike neurogenesis phases from proliferating precursor pools. Systematic analysis of Notch ligands revealed that the two zebrafish co-orthologs of mammalian Delta1, DeltaA and DeltaD, control the neurogenic switch of all early developing dopaminergic neurons in a partially redundant manner. DeltaA/D may also be involved in maintenance of dopaminergic precursor pools, as olig2 expression in ventral diencephalic dopaminergic precursors is affected in dla/dld mutants. DeltaA/D act upstream of sim1a and otpa during dopaminergic specification. However, despite the fact that both dopaminergic and corticotropin-releasing hormone neurons derive from sim1a- and otpa-expressing precursors, DeltaA/D does not act as a lineage switch between these two neuronal types. Rather, DeltaA/D limits the size of the sim1a- and otpa-expressing precursor pool from which dopaminergic neurons differentiate.
The transcription factor Sox2 is a core component of the pluripotency control circuits in the early embryo, and later controls many aspects of neural development. Here, we demonstrate that Sox2 expression in the epiblast (mouse blastoderm) and anterior neural plate (ANP) is determined by the upstream enhancer N2. The mouse enhancer N2 exhibits strong activity in mouse ES cells, epiblast and ANP, and is regulated correctly in chicken and zebrafish embryos. Targeted deletion of this enhancer in mouse embryos caused a large reduction of Sox2 expression to 10% of that of wild-type levels in epiblast and ANP. However, this was tolerated by mouse embryo, probably due to functional compensation by Sox3. The activity of enhancer N2 depends on phylogenetically conserved bipartite POU factor-binding motifs in a 73-bp core sequence that function synergistically, but this activation does not involve Sox2. The major POU factor expressed at the epiblastic stage is Pou5f1 (Oct3/4), while those in the anterior neural plate are Pou3f factors (Oct6, Brn2 etc.). These factors are gradually exchanged during the transition from epiblast to ANP stages in mouse embryos and epiblast stem cells (EpiSC). Consistently, enhancer N2 activity changes from full Pou5f1 dependence to Pou3f dependence during the development of neural plate cells (NPC) from EpiSC, as assessed by specific POU factor knockdown in these cells. Zebrafish mutant embryos completely devoid of Pou5f1 activity failed to activate enhancer N2 and to express Sox2 in the blastoderm and ANP, and these defects were rescued by exogenous supply of pou5f1. Previously, Pou5f1-Sox2 synergism-dependent Sox2 activation through enhancer SRR2 in ES cells has been highlighted, but this mechanism is limited to ES cells and amniotes. In contrast, the enhancer N2-mediated, POU factor-dependent activation of Sox2, without involvement of Sox2, is a phylogenetically conserved core mechanism that functions in gene regulatory networks at early embryonic stages.
Angiogenesis is regulated by the small GTPase Rac1. The ELMO1/DOCK180 complex forms a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rac1, regulating its activation during cell migration in different biological systems. Objective: To investigate the function of ELMO1/DOCK180 in vascular development.
The transcription factor POU5f1/OCT4 controls pluripotency in mammalian ES cells, but little is known about its functions in the early embryo. We used time-resolved transcriptome analysis of zebrafish pou5f1 MZspg mutant embryos to identify genes regulated by Pou5f1. Comparison to mammalian systems defines evolutionary conserved Pou5f1 targets. Time-series data reveal many Pou5f1 targets with delayed or advanced onset of expression. We identify two Pou5f1-dependent mechanisms controlling developmental timing. First, several Pou5f1 targets are transcriptional repressors, mediating repression of differentiation genes in distinct embryonic compartments. We analyze her3 gene regulation as example for a repressor in the neural anlagen. Second, the dynamics of SoxB1 group gene expression and Pou5f1-dependent regulation of her3 and foxD3 uncovers differential requirements for SoxB1 activity to control temporal dynamics of activation, and spatial distribution of targets in the embryo. We establish a mathematical model of the early Pou5f1 and SoxB1 gene network to demonstrate regulatory characteristics important for developmental timing. The temporospatial structure of the zebrafish Pou5f1 target networks may explain aspects of the evolution of the mammalian stem cell networks.
Dopaminergic neurons develop in several distinct regions of the vertebrate brain and project locally or send long axonal projections to distant parts of the CNS to modulate the activity of a variety of circuits, controlling aspects of physiology, behavior and movement. The molecular control of dopaminergic differentiation and the evolution of the various dopaminergic systems are not well understood, as research has mostly focused on ascending mammalian dopaminergic systems of the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area. Zebrafish have evolved as an excellent genetic and experimental embryological model to study specification and axonal projectivity of dopaminergic neurons. The large evolutionary distance between fish and mammals provides the opportunity to identify conserved core regulatory mechanisms that control differentiation and projection behavior of the various dopaminergic groups in vertebrates. Here, we present an overview of the formation of dopaminergic groups and their projections in zebrafish. We will further review the results from genetic analyses, which have revealed insights on signals as well as transcription factors contributing to dopaminergic differentiation. Together with recently established paradigms for behavioral analysis, dopaminergic systems are studied at all levels in zebrafish, from molecular and cellular to systems and behavioral.
Longitudinal axons provide connectivity between remote areas of the nervous system. Although the molecular determinants driving commissural pathway formation have been well characterized, mechanisms specifying the formation of longitudinal axon tracts in the vertebrate nervous system are largely unknown. Here, we study axon guidance mechanisms of the longitudinal dopaminergic (DA) diencephalospinal tract. This tract is established by DA neurons located in the ventral diencephalon and is thought to be involved in modulating locomotor activity. Using mutant analysis as well as gain of function and loss of function experiments, we demonstrate that longitudinal DA axons navigate by integrating long-range signaling of midline-derived cues. Repulsive Robo2/Slit signaling keeps longitudinal DA axons away from the midline. In the absence of repulsive Robo2/Slit function, DA axons are attracted toward the midline by DCC (deleted in colorectal cancer)/Netrin1 signaling. Thus, Slit-based repulsion counteracts Netrin-mediated attraction to specify lateral positions of the DA diencephalospinal tract. We further identified heparan sulfate proteglycans as essential modulators of DA diencephalospinal guidance mechanisms. Our findings provide insight into the complexity of positioning far-projecting longitudinal axons and allow us to provide a model for DA diencephalospinal pathfinding. Simultaneous integrations of repulsive and attractive long-range cues from the midline act in a concerted manner to define lateral positions of DA longitudinal axon tracts.
Connective tissues ensure the cohesion of the tissues of the body, but also form specialized structures such as tendon and bone. Collagen XII may enhance the stability of connective tissues by bridging collagen fibrils, but its function is still unclear. Here, we used the zebrafish model to visualize its expression pattern in the whole organism. The zebrafish col12a1 gene is homologous to the small isoform of the tetrapod col12a1 gene. In agreement with the biochemical data reported for the small isoform, the zebrafish collagen XII alpha1 chain was characterized as a collagenase sensitive band migrating at approximately 200 kDa. Using newly generated polyclonal antibodies and anti-sense probes, we performed a comprehensive analysis of its expression in developing zebrafish. Collagen XII exhibited a much broader expression pattern than previously thought: it was ubiquitously expressed in the connective tissue sheaths (fascia) that encase the tissues and organs of the body. For example, it was found in sclera, meninges, epimysia and horizontal and vertical myosepta. Collagen XII was also detected in head mesenchyme, pharyngeal arches and within the spinal cord, where it was first expressed within and then at the lateral borders of the floor plate and at the dorsal midline. Furthermore, double immunofluorescence staining with laminin and immunogold electron microscopy revealed that collagen XII is associated with basement membranes. These data suggest that collagen XII is implicated in tissue cohesion by stabilizing fascia and by linking fascia to basement membranes.
The members of the Olig gene family encode for basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors involved in neural cell type specification. Three Olig genes (Olig1, Olig2 and Olig3) have been identified in all known vertebrate models and a fourth one in anamniotes (olig4). Here we have performed a global analysis of olig genes during zebrafish embryonic development and determined which signaling pathways control their induction and regionalization in the CNS. Interestingly, zebrafish olig3 and olig4 together establish most of the expression domains corresponding to mouse Olig3. According to our data, olig1 is specifically confined to the oligodendrocyte lineage, whereas the other members display stratified expression in diencephalon, hindbrain, and spinal cord. We observed differential expression of olig genes within specific motoneuron and interneuron domains of the spinal cord. olig2, olig3, and olig4 expression appears to be regulated by nodal and FGF signaling during gastrulation and early somitogenesis, by RA signaling in the hindbrain, and by BMP and Hh signals along the dorsoventral axis of the embryonic CNS. Our findings suggest a role for olig genes in CNS patterning as well as in multiple cell fate decisions during neural differentiation.
Vertebrate dopaminergic neurons develop in distinct neural territories to constitute one of the major neuromodulatory systems. We have identified a zebrafish mutation in the bHLH-PAS family member arnt2, based on a strong reduction in cell number of specific dopaminergic neuron groups in the hypothalamus and posterior tuberculum. Knockdown of sim1 causes a dopaminergic phenotype similar to arnt2 mutants, suggesting that Sim1 acts as a binding partner of Arnt2, similar to their role in hypothalamic neuroendocrine cell specification. sim1, arnt2 and otp are co-expressed in dopaminergic neurons, and combined overexpression of Sim1 and Otp leads to formation of supernumerary dopaminergic neurons in the ventral diencephalon. Arnt2, Sim1 and Otp thus are core components of a conserved transcriptional network, which specifies neuroendocrine as well as A11-related dopaminergic neurons in the fish hypothalamus and posterior tuberculum. Our data suggest a common evolutionary origin of specific hypothalamic neuroendocrine and dopaminergic systems.
Most vertebrates process visual information using elaborately structured photosensory tissues, including the eyes and pineal. However, there is strong evidence that other tissues can detect and respond to photic stimuli. Many reports suggest that photosensitive elements exist within the brain itself and influence physiology and behavior; however, a long-standing puzzle has been the identity of the neurons and photoreceptor molecules involved. We tested whether light cues influence behavior in zebrafish larvae through deep brain photosensors. We found that larvae lacking eyes and pineal perform a simple light-seeking behavior triggered by loss of illumination ("dark photokinesis"). Neuroanatomical considerations prompted us to test orthopedia (otpa)-deficient fish, which show a profound reduction in dark photokinesis. Using targeted genetic ablations, we narrowed the photosensitive region to neurons in the preoptic area. Neurons in this region express several photoreceptive molecules, but expression of the melanopsin opn4a is selectively lost in otpa mutants, suggesting that opn4a mediates dark photokinesis. Our findings shed light on the identity and function of deep brain photoreceptors and suggest that otpa specifies an ancient population of sensory neurons that mediate behavioral responses to light.
This article describes a procedure for the dissociation of zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos to produce a suspension of single cells that is suitable for fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). The method has been applied to embryos at stages from 14 h post fertilization (hpf) to larvae at 5 d post fertilization (dpf), and it has also been successfully used for isolating fluorescently tagged neurons from whole dissociated embryos and early larvae. The cell collection procedures described in this protocol may also be adapted for older embryos and juvenile zebrafish. RNA can be extracted from the sorted cells and used for subsequent quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR), microarrays, or next-generation sequencing (NGS) experiments.
Distinct groups of dopaminergic neurons develop at defined anatomical sites in the brain to modulate function of a large diversity of local and far-ranging circuits. However, the molecular identity as judged from transcription factor expression has not been determined for all dopaminergic groups. Here, we analyze regional expression of transcription factors in the larval zebrafish brain to determine co-expression with the Tyrosine hydroxylase marker in dopaminergic neurons. We define sets of transcription factors that clearly identify each dopaminergic group. These data confirm postulated relations to dopaminergic groups defined for mammalian systems. We focus our functional analysis on prethalamic dopaminergic neurons, which co-express the transcription factors Arx and Isl1. Morpholino-based knockdown reveals that both Arx and Isl1 are strictly required for prethalamic dopaminergic neuron development and appear to act in parallel. We further show that Arx contributes to patterning in the prethalamic region, while Isl1 is required for differentiation of prethalamic dopaminergic neurons.
Precise three-dimensional (3D) mapping of a large number of gene expression patterns, neuronal types and connections to an anatomical reference helps us to understand the vertebrate brain and its development. We developed the Virtual Brain Explorer (ViBE-Z), a software that automatically maps gene expression data with cellular resolution to a 3D standard larval zebrafish (Danio rerio) brain. ViBE-Z enhances the data quality through fusion and attenuation correction of multiple confocal microscope stacks per specimen and uses a fluorescent stain of cell nuclei for image registration. It automatically detects 14 predefined anatomical landmarks for aligning new data with the reference brain. ViBE-Z performs colocalization analysis in expression databases for anatomical domains or subdomains defined by any specific pattern; here we demonstrate its utility for mapping neurons of the dopaminergic system. The ViBE-Z database, atlas and software are provided via a web interface.
Forward genetics using zebrafish is a powerful tool for studying vertebrate development through large-scale mutagenesis. Nonetheless, the identification of the molecular lesion is still laborious and involves time-consuming genetic mapping. Here, we show that high-throughput sequencing of the whole zebrafish genome can directly locate the interval carrying the causative mutation and at the same time pinpoint the molecular lesion. The feasibility of this approach was validated by sequencing the m1045 mutant line that displays a severe hypoplasia of the exocrine pancreas. We generated 13 Gb of sequence, equivalent to an eightfold genomic coverage, from a pool of 50 mutant embryos obtained from a map-cross between the AB mutant carrier and the WIK polymorphic strain. The chromosomal region carrying the causal mutation was localized based on its unique property to display high levels of homozygosity among sequence reads as it derives exclusively from the initial AB mutated allele. We developed an algorithm identifying such a region by calculating a homozygosity score along all chromosomes. This highlighted an 8-Mb window on chromosome 5 with a score close to 1 in the m1045 mutants. The sequence analysis of all genes within this interval revealed a nonsense mutation in the snapc4 gene. Knockdown experiments confirmed the assertion that snapc4 is the gene whose mutation leads to exocrine pancreas hypoplasia. In conclusion, this study constitutes a proof-of-concept that whole-genome sequencing is a fast and effective alternative to the classical positional cloning strategies in zebrafish.
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.