October 31, 2020

Altered visual function in a larval zebrafish knockout of neurodevelopmental risk gene pdzk1

The human PDZK1 gene is located in a genomic susceptibility region for neurodevelopmental disorders. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) identified links between PDZK1 polymorphisms and altered visual contrast sensitivity, an endophenotype for schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder. The PDZK1 protein is implicated in neurological functioning, interacting with synaptic molecules including post-synaptic density 95 (PSD-95), N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDAR), corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 1 (CRFR1) and serotonin 2A receptors. To elucidate the role of PDZK1, we generated pdzk1-knockout (pdzk1-KO) zebrafish using CRISPR/Cas-9 genome editing. Visual function of 7-day-old fish was assessed at behavioural and functional levels using the optomotor response (OMR) and scotopic electroretinogram (ERG). We also quantified retinal morphology and densities of PSD-95, NMDAR1, CRFR1 and serotonin in the synaptic inner plexiform layer at 7 days, 4 weeks and 8 weeks of age. Relative to wild-type, pdzk1-KO larvae showed spatial-frequency tuning functions with increased amplitude (likely due to abnormal gain control) and reduced ERG b-waves (suggestive of inner retinal dysfunction). However, these functional differences were not associated with gross synaptic or morphological retinal phenotypes. The findings corroborate a role for pdzk1 in visual function, and our model system provides a platform for investigating other genes associated with abnormal visual behaviour.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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