Natterin-like depletion by CRISPR/Cas9 impairs zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryonic development

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Background The Natterin protein family was first discovered in the venom of the medically significant fish Thalassophryne nattereri, and over the last decade natterin-like genes have been identified in various organisms, notably performing immune-related functions. Previous findings support natterin-like genes as effector defense molecules able to activate multiprotein complexes driving the host innate immune response, notably due to the pore-forming function of the aerolysin superfamily members. Herein, employing a combination of the CRISPR/Cas9 depletion system, phenotype-based screening, and morphometric methods, we evaluated the role of one family member, LOC795232, in the embryonic development of zebrafish since it might be implicated in multiple roles and characterization of the null mutant is central for analysis of gene activity. Results Multiple sequence alignment revealed that the candidate natterin-like has the highest similarity to zebrafish aep1, a putative and better characterized fish-specific defense molecule from the same family. Compared to other species, zebrafish have many natterin-like copies. Whole-mount in situ hybridization confirmed the knockout and mutant embryos exhibited epiboly delay, growth retardation, yolk sac and heart edema, absent or diminished swim bladder, spinal defects, small eyes and head, heart dysfunction, and behavioral impairment. As previously demonstrated, ribonucleoproteins composed of Cas9 and duplex guide RNAs are effective at inducing mutations in the F0 zebrafish. Conclusions The considerably high natterin-like copies in zebrafish compared to other species might be due to the teleost-specific whole genome duplication and followed by subfunctionalization or neofunctionalization. In the present work, we described some of the natterin-like features in the zebrafish development and infer that natterin-like proteins potentially contribute to the embryonary development and immune response.
Seni-Silva AC, Maleski ALA, Souza MM, Falcão MAP, Disner GR, Lopes-Ferreira M, et al. Natterin-like depletion by CRISPR/Cas9 impairs zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryonic development. BMC Genomics. 2022 Feb;23:123. doi:10.1186/s12864-022-08369-z.
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