Individual knock out of glycine receptor alpha subunits identifies a specific requirement of glra1 for motor function in zebrafish

Samarut, E., Chalopin, D., Riché, R., Allard, M., Liao, M., Drapeau, P.
PLoS One   14: e0216159 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Drapeau, Pierre, Samarut, Eric
MeSH Terms
  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental/genetics
  • Gene Knockout Techniques/methods
  • Motor Activity/genetics
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Phylogeny
  • Receptors, Glycine/genetics*
  • Receptors, Glycine/metabolism
  • Synaptic Transmission/genetics
  • Zebrafish/genetics
31048868 Full text @ PLoS One
Glycine receptors (GlyRs) are ligand-gated chloride channels mediating inhibitory neurotransmission in the brain stem and spinal cord. They function as pentamers composed of alpha and beta subunits for which 5 genes have been identified in human (GLRA1, GLRA2, GLRA3, GLRA4, GLRB). Several in vitro studies showed that the pentameric subtype composition as well as its stoichiometry influence the distribution and the molecular function of the receptor. Moreover, mutations in some of these genes are involved in different human conditions ranging from tinnitus to epilepsy and hyperekplexia, suggesting distinct functions of the different subunits. Although the beta subunit is essential for synaptic clustering of the receptor, the specific role of each alpha subtype is still puzzling in vivo. The zebrafish genome encodes for five glycine receptor alpha subunits (glra1, glra2, glra3, glra4a, glra4b) thus offering a model of choice to investigate the respective role of each subtype on general motor behaviour. After establishing a phylogeny of GlyR subunit evolution between human and zebrafish, we checked the temporal expression pattern of these transcripts during embryo development. Interestingly, we found that glra1 is the only maternally transmitted alpha subunit. We also showed that the expression of the different GlyR subunits starts at different time points during development. Lastly, in order to decipher the role of each alpha subunit on the general motor behaviour of the fish, we knocked out individually each alpha subunit by CRISPR/Cas9-targeted mutagenesis. Surprisingly, we found that knocking out any of the alpha2, 3, a4a or a4b subunit did not lead to any obvious developmental or motor phenotype. However, glra1-/- (hitch) embryos depicted a strong motor dysfunction from 3 days, making them incapable to swim and thus leading to their premature death. Our results infer a strong functional redundancy between alpha subunits and confirm the central role played by glra1 for proper inhibitory neurotransmission controlling locomotion. The genetic tools we developed here will be of general interest for further studies aiming at dissecting the role of GlyRs in glycinergic transmission in vivo and the hitch mutant (hic) is of specific relevance as a new model of hyperekplexia.
Genes / Markers
Show all Figures
Mutation and Transgenics
Human Disease / Model Data
Sequence Targeting Reagents
Engineered Foreign Genes
Errata and Notes