Wong, T.T., and Collodi, P. (2013) Effects of specific and prolonged expression of zebrafish growth factors, Fgf2 and Lif in primordial germ cells in vivo. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 430(1):347-351.
Primordial germ cells (PGCs), specified early in development, proliferate and migrate to the developing gonad before sexual differentiation occurs in the embryo and eventually give rise to spermatogonia or oogonia. In this study, we discovered that nanos3 32UTR, a common method used to label PGCs, not only directed PGC-specific expression of DsRed but also prolonged this expression up to 26 days post fertilization (dpf) when DsRed-nanos3 32UTR hybrid mRNAs were introduced into 1 to 2-cell-stage embryos. As such, we employed this knowledge to express zebrafish leukemia inhibitory factor (Lif), basic fibroblast growth factor (Fgf2) and bone morphogenetic protein 4 (Bmp4) in the PGCs and evaluate their effects on PGC development in vivo for over a period of 3 weeks. The results show that expression of Fgf2 significantly increased PGC number at 14- and 21-dpf while Bmp4 resulted in severe ventralization and death of the embryos by 3 days. Expression of Lif resulted in a significant disruption of PGC migration. Mopholino knockdown experiments indicated that Lif illicited its effect on PGC migration through Lif receptor a (Lifra) but not Lifrb. The general approach described in this study could be used to achieve prolonged PGC-specific expression of other proteins to investigate their roles in germ cell and gonad development. The results also indicate that zebrafish PGCs have a mechanism to stabilize and prolong the expression of mRNA that carries nanos3 32UTR. Understanding this mechanism may make it possible to achieve prolonged RNA expression in other cell types.