Assessment of Autism Zebrafish Mutant Models Using a High-Throughput Larval Phenotyping Platform

Alexandra Colón-Rodríguez, José M. Uribe-Salazar, Kae Chandra B. Weyenberg, Aditya Sriram, Alejandra Quezada, Gulhan Kaya, Emily Jao, Brittany Radke, Pamela J. Lein, Megan Y. Dennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In recent years, zebrafish have become commonly used as a model for studying human traits and disorders. Their small size, high fecundity, and rapid development allow for more high-throughput experiments compared to other vertebrate models. Given that zebrafish share >70% gene homologs with humans and their genomes can be readily edited using highly efficient CRISPR methods, we are now able to rapidly generate mutations impacting practically any gene of interest. Unfortunately, our ability to phenotype mutant larvae has not kept pace. To address this challenge, we have developed a protocol that obtains multiple phenotypic measurements from individual zebrafish larvae in an automated and parallel fashion, including morphological features (i.e., body length, eye area, and head size) and movement/behavior. By assaying wild-type zebrafish in a variety of conditions, we determined optimal parameters that avoid significant developmental defects or physical damage; these include morphological imaging of larvae at two time points [3 days post fertilization (dpf) and 5 dpf] coupled with motion tracking of behavior at 5 dpf. As a proof-of-principle, we tested our approach on two novel CRISPR-generated mutant zebrafish lines carrying predicted null-alleles of syngap1b and slc7a5, orthologs to two human genes implicated in autism-spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, and epilepsy. Using our optimized high-throughput phenotyping protocol, we recapitulated previously published results from mouse and zebrafish models of these candidate genes. In summary, we describe a rapid parallel pipeline to characterize morphological and behavioral features of individual larvae in a robust and consistent fashion, thereby improving our ability to better identify genes important in human traits and disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number586296
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
Volume8
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 23 2020

Keywords

  • CRISPR
  • Danio rerio
  • DanioVision
  • developmental disorders
  • phenotyping
  • seizure
  • VAST
  • zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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