[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The extent of adult stem cell involvement in embryonic growth is often unclear, as reliable markers or assays for whether a cell is derived from an adult stem cell, such as the melanocyte stem cell (MSC), are typically not available. We have previously shown that two lineages of melanocytes can contribute to the larval zebrafish pigment pattern. The embryo first develops an ontogenetic pattern that is largely composed of ErbB-independent, direct-developing melanocytes. This population can be replaced during regeneration by an ErbB-dependent MSC-derived population following melanocyte ablation. In this study, we developed a melanocyte differentiation assay used together with drugs that ablate the MSC to investigate whether MSC-derived melanocytes contribute to the ontogenetic pattern. We found that essentially all melanocytes that develop before 3 dpf arise from the ErbB-independent, direct-developing population. Similarly, late-developing (after 3 dpf) melanocytes of the head are also ErbB independent. In contrast, the melanocytes that develop after 3 days postfertilization in the lateral and dorsal stripe are sensitive to ErbB inhibitor, indicating that they are derived from the MSC. We show that melanocyte regeneration mutants kit(j1e99) and skiv2l2(j24e1) that are grossly normal for the overall ontogenetic pattern also lack the MSC-derived contribution to the lateral stripe. This result suggests that the underlying regeneration defect of these mutations is a defect in MSC regulation. We suggest that the regulative functions of the MSC may serve quality control roles during larval development, in addition to its established roles in larval regeneration and growth and homeostasis in the adult.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adult stem cells are responsible for maintaining and repairing tissues during the life of an organism. Tissue repair in humans, however, is limited compared to the regenerative capabilities of other vertebrates, such as the zebrafish (Danio rerio). An understanding of stem cell mechanisms, such as how they are established, their self-renewal properties, and their recruitment to produce new cells is therefore important for the application of regenerative medicine. We use larval melanocyte regeneration following treatment with the melanocytotoxic drug MoTP to investigate these mechanisms in Melanocyte Stem Cell (MSC) regulation. In this paper, we show that the receptor tyrosine kinase, erbb3b, is required for establishing the adult MSC responsible for regenerating the larval melanocyte population. Both the erbb3b mutant and wild-type fish treated with the ErbB inhibitor, AG1478, develop normal embryonic melanocytes but fail to regenerate melanocytes after MoTP-induced melanocyte ablation. By administering AG1478 at different time points, we show that ErbB signaling is only required for regeneration prior to MoTP treatment and before 48 hours of development, consistent with a role in establishing MSCs. We then show that overexpression of kitla, the Kit ligand, in transgenic larvae leads to recruitment of MSCs, resulting in overproliferation of melanocytes. Furthermore, kitla overexpression can rescue AG1478-blocked regeneration, suggesting that ErbB signaling is required to promote the progression and specification of the MSC from a pre-MSC state. This study provides evidence that ErbB signaling is required for the establishment of adult MSCs during embryonic development. That this requirement is not shared with the embryonic melanocytes suggests that embryonic melanocytes develop directly, without proceeding through the ErbB-dependent MSC. Moreover, the shared requirement of larval melanocyte regeneration and metamorphic melanocytes that develops at the larval-to-adult transition suggests that these post-embryonic melanocytes develop from the same adult MSC population. Lastly, that kitla overexpression can recruit the MSC to develop excess melanocytes raises the possibility that Kit signaling may be involved in MSC recruitment during regeneration.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Zebrafish is gaining popularity as a vertebrate model for screening small molecules that affect specific phenotypes or genetic pathways. In this study, we present a targeted drug screen to identify drug modifiers of the melanocyte migration defect of a temperature-sensitive allele of the Kit receptor tyrosine kinase, kit(ts). We first test two candidate drugs, the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase kinase inhibitor (LY294002) and the Erk/MAP kinase inhibitor (PD98059), for their effect on melanocyte migration and survival. We find that LY294002 enhances the migration defect of kit(ts), implicating the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase kinase pathway in promoting kit-dependent melanocyte migration, but not survival. We then used the kit(ts)-sensitized genetic background to screen a panel of 1280 pharmacologically active drugs to identify drug enhancers and suppressors of the kit(ts) melanocyte migration defect. We identified three drug enhancers of migration, two of which, Papaverine and Isoliquiritigenin, specifically enhance the kit(ts) migration defect, while 8-DPAT affected both melanocyte migration and survival. These drugs now provide additional experimental tools for investigating the mechanisms of kit-promoted melanocyte migration and survival in the zebrafish embryo.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent studies reveal a critical role for copper in the development of the zebrafish notochord, suggesting that specific cuproenzymes are required for the structural integrity of the notochord sheath. We now demonstrate that beta-aminopropionitrile, a known inhibitor of the copper-dependent lysyl oxidases, causes notochord distortion in the zebrafish embryo identical to that seen in copper deficiency. Characterization of the zebrafish lysyl oxidase genes reveals eight unique sequences, several of which are expressed in the developing notochord. Specific gene knockdown demonstrates that loss of loxl1 results in notochord distortion, and that loxl1 and loxl5b have overlapping roles in notochord formation. Interestingly, while notochord abnormalities are not observed following partial knockdown of loxl1 or loxl5b alone, in each case this markedly sensitizes developing embryos to notochord distortion if copper availability is diminished. Likewise, partial knockdown of the lysyl oxidase substrate col2a1 results in notochord distortion when combined with reduced copper availability or partial knockdown of loxl1 or loxl5b. These data reveal a complex interplay of gene expression and nutrient availability critical to notochord development. They also provide insight into specific genetic and nutritional factors that may play a role in the pathogenesis of structural birth defects of the axial skeleton.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The establishment of a single cell type regeneration paradigm in the zebrafish provides an opportunity to investigate the genetic mechanisms specific to regeneration processes. We previously demonstrated that regeneration melanocytes arise from cell division of the otherwise quiescent melanocyte precursors following larval melanocyte ablation with a small molecule, MoTP. The ease of ablating melanocytes by MoTP allows us to conduct a forward genetic screen for mechanisms specific to regeneration from such precursors or stem cells. Here, we reported the identification of two mutants, eartha(j23e1) and julie(j24e1) from a melanocyte ablation screen. Both mutants develop normal larval melanocytes, but upon melanocyte ablation, each mutation results in a distinct stage-specific defect in melanocyte regeneration. Positional cloning reveals that the eartha(j23e1) mutation is a nonsense mutation in gfpt1 (glutamine:fructose-6-phosphate aminotransferase 1), the rate-limiting enzyme in glucosamine-6-phosphate biosynthesis. Our analyses reveal that a mutation in gfpt1 specifically affects melanocyte differentiation (marked by melanin production) at a late stage during regeneration and that gfpt1 acts cell autonomously in melanocytes to promote ontogenetic melanocyte darkening. We identified that the julie(j24e1) mutation is a splice-site mutation in skiv2l2 (superkiller viralicidic activity 2-like 2), a predicted DEAD-box RNA helicase. Our in situ analysis reveals that the mutation in skiv2l2 causes defects in cell proliferation, suggesting that skiv2l2 plays a role in regulating melanoblast proliferation during early stages of melanocyte regeneration. This finding is consistent with previously described role for cell division during larval melanocyte regeneration. The analyses of these mutants reveal their stage-specific roles in melanocyte regeneration. Interestingly, these mutants identify regeneration-specific functions not only in early stages of the regeneration process, but also in late stages of differentiation of the regenerating melanocyte. We suggest that mechanisms of regeneration identified in this mutant screen may reveal fundamental differences between the mechanisms that establish differentiated cells during embryogenesis, and those involved in larval or adult growth.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The retention of particular genes after the whole genome duplication in zebrafish has given insights into how genes may evolve through partitioning of ancestral functions. We examine the partitioning of expression patterns and functions of two zebrafish kit ligands, kit ligand a (kitla) and kit ligand b (kitlb), and discuss their possible coevolution with the duplicated zebrafish kit receptors (kita and kitb). In situ hybridizations show that kitla mRNA is expressed in the trunk adjacent to the notochord in the middle of each somite during stages of melanocyte migration and later expressed in the skin, when the receptor is required for melanocyte survival. kitla is also expressed in other regions complementary to kita receptor expression, including the pineal gland, tail bud, and ear. In contrast, kitlb mRNA is expressed in brain ventricles, ear, and cardinal vein plexus, in regions generally not complementary to either zebrafish kit receptor ortholog. However, like kitla, kitlb is expressed in the skin during stages consistent with melanocyte survival. Thus, it appears that kita and kitla have maintained congruent expression patterns, while kitb and kitlb have evolved divergent expression patterns. We demonstrate the interaction of kita and kitla by morpholino knockdown analysis. kitla morphants, but not kitlb morphants, phenocopy the null allele of kita, with defects for both melanocyte migration and survival. Furthermore, kitla morpholino, but not kitlb morpholino, interacts genetically with a sensitized allele of kita, confirming that kitla is the functional ligand to kita. Last, we examine kitla overexpression in embryos, which results in hyperpigmentation caused by an increase in the number and size of melanocytes. This hyperpigmentation is dependent on kita function. We conclude that following genome duplication, kita and kitla have maintained their receptor-ligand relationship, coevolved complementary expression patterns, and that functional analysis reveals that most or all of the kita receptor's function in the embryo are promoted by its interaction with kitla.