Fluorescent Transgenic Zebrafish Tg(nkx2.2a:mEGFP) Provides a Highly Sensitive Monitoring Tool for Neurotoxins

Zhang, Xiaoyan; Gong, Zhiyuan
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Previously a standard toxicological test termed as DarT (Danio rerio Teratogenic assay) using wild type zebrafish embryos has been established and it is widely applied in toxicological and chemical screenings. As an increasing number of fluorescent transgenic zebrafish lines with specific fluorescent protein expression specifically expressed in different organs and tissues, we envision that the fluorescent markers may provide more sensitive endpoints for monitoring chemical induced phenotypical changes. Here we employed Tg(nkx2.2a:mEGFP) transgenic zebrafish which have GFP expression in the central nervous system to investigate its potential for screening neurotoxic chemicals. Five potential neurotoxins (acetaminophen, atenolol, atrazine, ethanol and lindane) and one neuroprotectant (mefenamic acid) were tested. We found that the GFP-labeled ventral axons from trunk motoneurons, which were easily observed in live fry and measured for quantification, were a highly sensitive to all of the five neurotoxins and the length of axons was significantly reduced in fry which looked normal based on DarT endpoints at low concentrations of neurotoxins. Compared to the most sensitive endpoints of DarT, ventral axon marker could improve the detection limit of these neurotoxins by about 10 fold. In contrast, there was no improvement for detection of the mefenamic acid compared to all DarT endpoints. Thus, ventral axon lengths provide a convenient and measureable marker specifically for neurotoxins. Our study may open a new avenue to use other fluorescent transgenic zebrafish embryos/fry to develop sensitive and specific toxicological tests for different categories of chemicals.


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