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See detailAscl1b and Neurod1, instead of Neurog3, control pancreatic endocrine cell fate in zebrafish
Flasse, Lydie; Pirson, Justine; Stern, David ULg et al

in BMC Biology (2013), 11

Background NEUROG3 is a key regulator of pancreatic endocrine cell differentiation in mouse, essential for the generation of all mature hormone producing cells. It is repressed by Notch signaling that ... [more ▼]

Background NEUROG3 is a key regulator of pancreatic endocrine cell differentiation in mouse, essential for the generation of all mature hormone producing cells. It is repressed by Notch signaling that prevents pancreatic cell differentiation by maintaining precursors in an undifferentiated state. Results We show herein that, in zebrafish, neurog3 is not expressed in the pancreas and null neurog3 mutant embryos do not display any apparent endocrine defects. The control of endocrine cell fate is instead fulfilled by a couple of bHLH factors, Ascl1b and Neurod1, that are both repressed by Notch signaling. ascl1b is transiently expressed in the mid-trunk endoderm just after gastrulation and is required for the generation of the first pancreatic endocrine precursor cells. Neurod1 is expressed afterwards in the pancreatic anlagen and pursues the endocrine cell differentiation program initiated by Ascl1b. Their complementary role in endocrine differentiation of the dorsal bud is demonstrated by the loss of all hormone-secreting cells following their simultaneous inactivation. This defect is due to a blockage of the initiation of endocrine cell differentiation. Conclusions This study demonstrates that NEUROG3 is not the unique pancreatic endocrine cell fate determinant in vertebrates. A general survey of endocrine cell fate determinants in the whole digestive system among vertebrates indicates that they all belong to the ARP/ASCL family but not necessarily to the Neurog3 subfamily. The identity of the ARP/ASCL factor involved depends not only on the organ but also on the species. One could therefore consider differentiating stem cells into insulin-producing cells without the involvement of NEUROG3 but via another ARP/ASCL factor. [less ▲]

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See detailFast Homozygosity Mapping and Identification of a Zebrafish ENU-Induced Mutation by Whole-Genome Sequencing.
Voz, Marianne ULg; Coppieters, Wouter ULg; Manfroid, Isabelle ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(4), 34671

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 ... [more ▼]

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. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Pax6b homeodomain is dispensable for pancreatic endocrine cell differentiation in zebrafish.
Verbruggen, Vincianne; Ek, Olivier; Georlette, Daphne et al

in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2010), 285(18), 13863-73

Pax6 is a well conserved transcription factor that contains two DNA-binding domains, a paired domain and a homeodomain, and plays a key role in the development of eye, brain, and pancreas in vertebrates ... [more ▼]

Pax6 is a well conserved transcription factor that contains two DNA-binding domains, a paired domain and a homeodomain, and plays a key role in the development of eye, brain, and pancreas in vertebrates. The recent identification of the zebrafish sunrise mutant, harboring a mutation in the pax6b homeobox and presenting eye abnormalities but no obvious pancreatic defects, raised a question about the role of pax6b in zebrafish pancreas. We show here that pax6b does play an essential role in pancreatic endocrine cell differentiation, as revealed by the phenotype of a novel zebrafish pax6b null mutant and of embryos injected with pax6b morpholinos. Pax6b-depleted embryos have almost no beta cells, a strongly reduced number of delta cells, and a significant increase of epsilon cells. Through the use of various morpholinos targeting intron-exon junctions, pax6b RNA splicing was perturbed at several sites, leading either to retention of intronic sequences or to deletion of exonic sequences in the pax6b transcript. By this strategy, we show that deletion of the Pax6b homeodomain in zebrafish embryos does not disturb pancreas development, whereas lens formation is strongly affected. These data thus provide the explanation for the lack of pancreatic defects in the sunrise pax6b mutants. In addition, partial reduction of Pax6b function in zebrafish embryos performed by injection of small amounts of pax6b morpholinos caused a clear rise in alpha cell number and in glucagon expression, emphasizing the importance of the fine tuning of the Pax6b level to its biological activity. [less ▲]

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