Cellular and molecular studies of postembryonic muscle fibre recruitment in zebrafish (Danio rerio L.)
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Cellular and molecular mechanisms of postembryonic muscle fibre recruitment were investigated in zebrafish (Danio rerio L.), a standard animal model for developmental and genetic studies. Distinct cellular mechanisms of postembryonic muscle fibre recruitment in fast and slow myotomal muscles were found. In slow muscle, three overlapping waves of stratified hyperplasia (SH) from distinct germinal zones sequentially contributed to a slow and steady increase in fibre number (FN) through the life span. In fast muscle, SH only contributed to an initial increase of FN in early larvae. Strikingly, mosaic hyperplasia (MH) appeared in late larvae and early juveniles and remained active until early adult stages, accounting for >70% of the final fibre number (FFN). The molecular regulation of postembryonic muscle fibre recruitment was then studied by characterising myospryn and cee, two strong candidate genes previously identified from a large scale screen for genes differentially expressed during the transition from hyperplastic to hypertrophic muscle phenotypes. Zebrafish myospryn contained very similar functional domains to its mammalian orthologues, which function to bind to other proteins known to regulate muscle dystrophy. Zebrafish myospryn also shared a highly conserved syntenic genomic neighbourhood with other vertebrate orthologues. As in mammals, zebrafish myospryn were specifically expressed in striated muscles. Zebrafish cee was a single-copy gene, highly conserved among metazoans, ubiquitously expressed across tissues, and did not form part of any wider gene family. Its protein encompassed a single conserved domain (DUF410) of unknown function although knock-down of cee in C. elegans and yeast have suggested a role in regulating growth patterns. Both myospyrn and cee transcripts were up-regulated concomitant with the cessation of postembryonic muscle fibre recruitment in zebrafish, indicating a potential role in regulating muscle growth. Furthermore, a genome-wide screen of genes involved in the regulation of postembryonic muscle fibre recruitment was performed using microarray. 85 genes were found to be consistently and differentially expressed between growth stages where muscle hyperplasia was active or inactive, including genes associated with muscle contraction, metabolism, and immunity. Further bioinformatic annotation indicated these genes comprised a complex transcriptional network with molecular functions, including catalytic activity and protein binding as well as pathways associated with metabolism, tight junctions, and human diseases. Finally, developmental plasticity of postembryonic muscle fibre recruitment to embryonic temperature was characterised. It involved transient effects including the relative timing and contribution of SH and MH, plus the rate and duration of fibre production, as well as a persistent alteration to FFN. Further investigation of FFN of fish over a broader range of embryonic temperature treatments (22, 26, 28, 31, 35°C) indicated that 26°C produced the highest FFN that was approximately 17% greater than at other temperatures. This finding implies the existence of an optimal embryonic temperature range for maximising FFN across a reaction norm. Additionally, a small but significant effect of parental temperature on FFN (up to 6% greater at 24 and 26°C than at 31°C) was evident, suggesting some parental mechanisms can affect muscle fibre recruitment patterns of progeny. This work provides a comprehensive investigation of mechanisms underlying postembryonic muscle fibre recruitment and demonstrates the power of zebrafish as an ideal teleost model for addressing mechanistic and practical aspects of postembryonic muscle recruitment, especially the presence of all major phases of muscle fibre production in larger commercially important teleost species.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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