Forward Genetic Screening Using Behavioral Tests in Zebrafish: A Proof of Concept Analysis of Mutants

Robert Gerlai, Tanya L. Poshusta, Mindy Rampersad, Yohaan Fernandes, Tammy M. Greenwood, Margot A. Cousin, Eric W Klee, Karl J Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

The zebrafish enjoys several advantages over other model organisms. It is small, easy to maintain, prolific, and numerous genetic tools are available for it. For example, forward genetic screens have allowed investigators to identify important genes potentially involved in a variety of functions from embryogenesis to cancer. However, despite its sophisticated behavioral repertoire, behavioral methods have rarely been utilized in forward genetic screens. Here, we employ a two-tiered strategy, a proof of concept study, to explore the feasibility of behavioral screens. We generated mutant lines using transposon-based insertional mutagenesis, allowing us to bias mutant selection with target genes expressed within the brain. Furthermore, we employed an efficient and fast behavioral pre-selection in which we investigated the locomotory response of 5-day post-fertilization old larval fish to hyperosmotic shock. Based on this assay, we selected five lines for our lower throughput secondary adult behavioral screen. The latter screen utilized tests in which computer animated image presentation and video-tracking-based automated quantification of behavior allowed us to compare heterozygous zebrafish with their wild-type siblings on their responses to a variety of stimuli. We found significant mutation induced adult behavioral alterations in 4 out of the 5 lines analyzed, including changes in response to social or fear inducing stimuli, to handling and novelty, or in habituation to novelty. We discuss the pros and cons of behavioral phenotyping and of the use of different forward genetic methods in biomedical research with zebrafish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalBehavior Genetics
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Oct 5 2016

Keywords

  • Behavioral phenotyping
  • Fear
  • Forward and reverse genetics
  • Habituation
  • Social behavior
  • Tol2 transposon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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