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Zebrafish atoh8 mutants do not recapitulate morpholino phenotypes

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journal contribution
posted on 15.10.2020 by Elsie S Place, James C Smith
Atoh8 is a bHLH transcription factor expressed in pancreas, skeletal muscle, the nervous system, and cardiovascular tissues during embryological development. Although it has been implicated in the regulation of pancreatic and endothelial cell differentiation, the phenotypic consequences of Atoh8 loss are uncertain. Conclusions from knockout studies in the mouse differ widely depending on the targeting strategy used, while atoh8 knockdown by interfering morpholino oligonucleotides (morpholinos) in zebrafish has led to a range of developmental defects. This study characterised zebrafish embryos homozygous for atoh8sa1465, a loss-of-function allele of atoh8, in order to provide genetic evidence for the developmental role of Atoh8 in this species. Embryos homozygous for atoh8sa1465 present normal body morphology, swimbladder inflation, and heart looping, and survive to adulthood. These embryos do not develop pericardial oedema by 72 hpf and are not sensitised to the loss of Fog1 protein, suggesting that this previously described abnormality is not a specific phenotype. Vascular patterning and primitive haematopoiesis are unaffected in atoh8sa1465/sa1465 mutant embryos. Together, the data suggest that Atoh8 is dispensible for zebrafish development under standard laboratory conditions.