Rod genesis driven by mafba in an nrl knockout zebrafish model with altered photoreceptor composition and progressive retinal degeneration

Fei Liu, Yayun Qin, Yuwen Huang, Pan Gao, Jingzhen Li, Shanshan Yu, Danna Jia, Xiang Chen, Yuexia Lv, Jiayi Tu, Kui Sun, Yunqiao Han, James Reilly, Xinhua Shu, Qunwei Lu, Zhaohui Tang, Chengqi Xu, Daji Luo, Mugen Liu

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Abstract

Neural retina leucine zipper (NRL) is an essential gene for the fate determination and differentiation of the precursor cells into rod photoreceptors in mammals. Mutations in NRL are associated with the autosomal recessive enhanced S-cone syndrome and autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa. However, the exact role of Nrl in regulating the development and maintenance of photoreceptors in the zebrafish (Danio rerio), a popular animal model used for retinal degeneration and regeneration studies, has not been fully determined. In this study, we generated an nrl knockout zebrafish model via the CRISPR-Cas9 technology and
observed a surprising phenotype characterized by a reduced number, but not the total loss, of rods and over-growth of green cones. We discovered two waves of rod genesis, nrl dependent and -independent at the embryonic and post-embryonic stages, respectively, in zebrafish by monitoring the rod development. Through bulk and single-cell RNA sequencing, we characterized the gene expression profiles of the whole retina and each retinal cell type from the wild type and nrl knockout zebrafish. The over-growth of green cones and misexpression of green-cone-specific genes in rods in nrl mutants suggested that there are rod/green-cone bipotent precursors, whose fate choice between rod versus green-cone is controlled by nrl. Besides, we identified the mafba gene as a novel regulator of the nrl-independent rod development, based on the cell-type-specific expression patterns and the retinal phenotype of nrl/mafba double-knockout zebrafish. Gene collinearity analysis revealed the
evolutionary origin of mafba and suggested that the function of mafba in rod development is specific to modern fishes. Furthermore, the altered photoreceptor composition and abnormal subsequent regeneration. Accordingly, this study revealed a novel function of the mafba gene in rod development and established a working model for the developmental and regulatory
mechanisms regarding the rod and green-cone photoreceptors in zebrafish.
gene expression in nrl mutants caused progressive retinal degeneration and subsequent regeneration. Accordingly, this study revealed a novel function of the mafba gene in rod development and established a working model for the developmental and regulatory mechanisms regarding the rod and green-cone photoreceptors in zebrafish.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1009841
Number of pages30
JournalPLoS Genetics
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • retinal degeneration
  • zebrafish
  • photoreceptors
  • neural retina leucine zipper (NRL)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research

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