Tulp1 deficiency causes early-onset retinal degeneration through affecting ciliogenesis and activating ferroptosis in zebrafish

Danna Jia, Pan Gao, Yuexia Lv, Yuwen Huang, James Reilly, Kui Sun, Yunqiao Han, Hualei Hu, Xiang Chen, Zuxiao Zhang, Pei Li, Jiong Luo, Xinhua Shu, Zhaohui Tang, Fei Liu, Mugen Liu, Xiang Ren

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Mutations in TUB-like protein 1 (TULP1) are associated with severe early-onset retinal degeneration in humans. However, the pathogenesis remains largely unknown. There are two homologous genes of TULP1 in zebrafish, namely tulp1a and tulp1b. Here, we generated the single knockout (tulp1a−/− and tulp1b−/−) and double knockout (tulp1-dKO) models in zebrafish. Knockout of tulp1a resulted in the mislocalization of UV cone opsins and the degeneration of UV cones specifically, while knockout of tulp1b resulted in mislocalization of rod opsins and rod-cone degeneration. In the tulp1-dKO zebrafish, mislocalization of opsins was present in all types of photoreceptors, and severe degeneration was observed at a very early age, mimicking the clinical manifestations of TULP1 patients. Photoreceptor cilium length was significantly reduced in the tulp1-dKO retinas. RNA-seq analysis showed that the expression of tektin2 (tekt2), a ciliary and flagellar microtubule structural component, was downregulated in the tulp1-dKO zebrafish. Dual-luciferase reporter assay suggested that Tulp1a and Tulp1b transcriptionally activate the promoter of tekt2. In addition, ferroptosis might be activated in the tulp1-dKO zebrafish, as suggested by the up-regulation of genes related to the ferroptosis pathway, the shrinkage of mitochondria, reduction or disappearance of mitochondria cristae, and the iron and lipid droplet deposition in the retina of tulp1-dKO zebrafish. In conclusion, our study establishes an appropriate zebrafish model for TULP1-associated retinal degeneration and proposes that loss of TULP1 causes defects in cilia structure and opsin trafficking through the downregulation of tekt2, which further increases the death of photoreceptors via ferroptosis. These findings offer insight into the pathogenesis and clinical treatment of early-onset retinal degeneration.
Original languageEnglish
Article number962
Number of pages11
JournalCell death and disease
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2022


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