Expression patterns of lgr4 and lgr6 during zebrafish development.
ABSTRACT Leucine-rich repeat (LRR)-containing G protein-coupled receptors (LGRs) belong to the superfamily of G protein-coupled receptors, and are characterized by the presence of seven transmembrane domains and an extracellular domain that contains a series of LRR motifs. Three Lgr proteins - Lgr4, Lgr5, and Lgr6 - were identified as members of the LGR subfamily. Mouse Lgr4 has been implicated in the formation of various organs through regulation of cell proliferation during development, and Lgr5 and Lgr6 are stem cell markers in the intestine or skin. Although the expression of these three genes has already been characterized in adult mice, their expression profiles during the embryonic and larval development of the organism have not yet been defined. We cloned two zebrafish lgr genes using the zebrafish genomic database. Phylogenetic analyses showed that these two genes are orthologs of mammalian Lgr4 and Lgr6. Zebrafish lgr4 is expressed in the neural plate border, Kupffer's vesicle, neural tube, otic vesicles, midbrain, eyes, forebrain, and brain ventricular zone by 24h post-fertilization (hpf). From 36 to 96hpf, lgr4 expression is detected in the midbrain-hindbrain boundary, otic vesicles, pharyngeal arches, cranial cartilages such as Meckel's cartilages, palatoquadrates, and ceratohyals, cranial cavity, pectoral fin buds, brain ventricular zone, ciliary marginal zone, and digestive organs such as the intestine, liver, and pancreas. In contrast, zebrafish lgr6 is expressed in the notochord, Kupffer's vesicle, the most anterior region of diencephalon, otic vesicles, and the anterior and posterior lateral line primordia by 24hpf. From 48 to 72hpf, lgr6 expression is confined to the anterior and posterior neuromasts, otic vesicles, pharyngeal arches, pectoral fin buds, and cranial cartilages such as Meckel's cartilages, ceratohyals, and trabeculae. Our results provide a basis for future studies aimed at analyzing the functions of zebrafish Lgr4 and Lgr6 in cell differentiation and proliferation during organ development.