Article

In the swim of things: recent insights to neurogenetic disorders from zebrafish.

Center for Excellence in Neuromics, Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) Research Center and Department of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada.
Trends in Genetics (Impact Factor: 11.6). 08/2010; 26(8):373-81. DOI: 10.1016/j.tig.2010.05.004
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The advantage of zebrafish as a model to study human pathologies lies in the ease of manipulating gene expression in vivo. Here we focus on recent progress in our understanding of motor neuron diseases and neurodevelopmental disorders and discuss how novel technologies will permit further disease models to be developed. Together these advances set the stage for this simple functional model, with particular advantages for transgenesis, multigenic analyses and chemical biology, to become uniquely suited for advancing the functional genomics of neurological and possibly psychiatric diseases - from understanding the genetics and cell biology of degenerative and developmental disorders to the discovery of therapeutics.

0 Followers
 · 
109 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Motor neuron disorders (MNDs) are a clinically heterogeneous group of neurological diseases characterized by progressive degeneration of motor neurons, and share some common pathological pathways. Despite remarkable advances in our understanding of these diseases, no curative treatment for MNDs exists. To better understand the pathogenesis of MNDs and to help develop new treatments, the establishment of animal models that can be studied efficiently and thoroughly is paramount. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is increasingly becoming a valuable model for studying human diseases and in screening for potential therapeutics. In this Review, we highlight recent progress in using zebrafish to study the pathology of the most common MNDs: spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP). These studies indicate the power of zebrafish as a model to study the consequences of disease-related genes, because zebrafish homologues of human genes have conserved functions with respect to the aetiology of MNDs. Zebrafish also complement other animal models for the study of pathological mechanisms of MNDs and are particularly advantageous for the screening of compounds with therapeutic potential. We present an overview of their potential usefulness in MND drug discovery, which is just beginning and holds much promise for future therapeutic development.
    Disease Models and Mechanisms 07/2014; 7(7):799-809. DOI:10.1242/dmm.015719 · 5.54 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Motor neuron diseases (MNDs) are an etiologically heterogeneous group of disorders of neurodegenerative origin, which result in degeneration of lower (LMNs) and/or upper motor neurons (UMNs). Neurodegenerative MNDs include pure hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP), which involves specific degeneration of UMNs, leading to progressive spasticity of the lower limbs. In contrast, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) involves the specific degeneration of LMNs, with symmetrical muscle weakness and atrophy. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the most common adult-onset MND, is characterized by the degeneration of both UMNs and LMNs, leading to progressive muscle weakness, atrophy, and spasticity. A review of the comparative neuroanatomy of the human and zebrafish motor systems showed that, while the zebrafish was a homologous model for LMN disorders, such as SMA, it was only partially relevant in the case of UMN disorders, due to the absence of corticospinal and rubrospinal tracts in its central nervous system. Even considering the limitation of this model to fully reproduce the human UMN disorders, zebrafish offer an excellent alternative vertebrate model for the molecular and genetic dissection of MND mechanisms. Its advantages include the conservation of genome and physiological processes and applicable in vivo tools, including easy imaging, loss or gain of function methods, behavioral tests to examine changes in motor activity, and the ease of simultaneous chemical/drug testing on large numbers of animals. This facilitates the assessment of the environmental origin of MNDs, alone or in combination with genetic traits and putative modifier genes. Positive hits obtained by phenotype-based small-molecule screening using zebrafish may potentially be effective drugs for treatment of human MNDs.
    Progress in Neurobiology 04/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2014.03.001 · 10.30 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The zebrafish posterior lateral line is formed during early development by the deposition of neuromasts from a migrating primordium. The molecular mechanisms regulating the regional organization and migration of the primordium involve interactions between Fgf and Wnt/[Formula: see text]-catenin signaling and the establishment of specific cxcr4b and cxcr7b cytokine receptor expression domains. Itch has been identified as a regulator in several different signaling pathways, including Wnt and Cxcr4 signaling. We identified two homologous itch genes in zebrafish, itcha and itchb, with generalized expression patterns. By reducing itchb expression in particular upon morpholino knockdown, we demonstrated the importance of Itch in regulating lateral line development by perturbing the patterns of cxcr4b and cxcr7b expression. Itch knockdown results in a failure to down-regulate Wnt signaling and overexpression of cxcr4b in the primordium, slowing migration of the posterior lateral line primordium and resulting in abnormal development of the lateral line.
    PLoS ONE 11/2014; 9(11):e111799. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0111799 · 3.53 Impact Factor