Ribosome biogenesis is an important biological process for proper cellular function and development. Defects leading to improper ribosome biogenesis can cause diseases such as Diamond-Blackfan anemia and Shwachman-Bodian-Diamond syndrome. Nucleolar proteins are a large family of proteins and are involved in many cellular processes, including the regulation of ribosome biogenesis. Through a forward genetic screen and positional cloning, we identified and characterized a zebrafish line carrying mutation in nucleolar protein with MIF4G domain 1 (nom1), which encodes a conserved nulceolar protein with a role in pre-rRNA processing. Zebrafish nom1 mutants exhibit major defects in endoderm development, especially in exocrine pancreas. Further studies revealed that impaired proliferation of ptf1a-expressing pancreatic progenitor cells mainly contributed to the phenotype. RNA-seq and molecular analysis showed that ribosome biogenesis and pre-mRNA splicing were both affected in the mutant embryos. Several defects of ribosome assembly have been shown to have a p53-dependent mechanism. In the nom1 mutant, loss of p53 did not rescue the pancreatic defect, suggesting a p53-independent role. Further studies indicate that protein phosphatase 1 alpha, an interacting protein to Nom1, could partially rescue the pancreatic defect in nom1 morphants if a human nucleolar localization signal sequence was artificially added. This suggests that targeting Pp1? into the nucleolus by Nom1 is important for pancreatic proliferation. Altogether, our studies revealed a new mechanism involving Nom1 in controlling vertebrate exocrine pancreas formation.
Congenital diseases caused by abnormal development of the cranial neural crest usually present craniofacial malformations and heart defects while the precise mechanism is not fully understood. Here, we show that the zebrafish eif3ba mutant caused by pseudo-typed retrovirus insertion exhibited a similar phenotype due to the hypogenesis of cranial neural crest cells (NCCs). The derivatives of cranial NCCs, including the NCC-derived cell population of pharyngeal arches, craniofacial cartilage, pigment cells and the myocardium derived from cardiac NCCs, were affected in this mutant. The expression of several neural crest marker genes, including crestin, dlx2a and nrp2b, was specifically reduced in the cranial regions of the eif3ba mutant. Through fluorescence-tracing of the cranial NCC migration marker nrp2b, we observed reduced intensity of NCC-derived cells in the heart. In addition, p53 was markedly up-regulated in the eif3ba mutant embryos, which correlated with pronounced apoptosis in the cranial area as shown by TUNEL staining. These findings suggest a novel function of eif3ba during embryonic development and a novel level of regulation in the process of cranial NCC development, in addition to providing a potential animal model to mimic congenital diseases due to cranial NCC defects. Furthermore, we report the identification of a novel transgenic fish line Et(gata2a:EGFP)pku418 to trace the migration of cranial NCCs (including cardiac NCCs); this may serve as an invaluable tool for investigating the development and dynamics of cranial NCCs during zebrafish embryogenesis.
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