Central nervous system hypomyelination disrupts axonal conduction and behaviour in larval zebrafish

Madden, M.E., Suminaite, D., Ortiz, E., Early, J.E., Koudelka, S., Livesey, M.R., Bianco, I.H., Granato, M., Lyons, D.A.
The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience   41(44): 9099-9111 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Bianco, Isaac, Granato, Michael, Lyons, David A.
MeSH Terms
  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Action Potentials*
  • Animals
  • Axons/metabolism
  • Axons/physiology*
  • Central Nervous System/metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System/physiology
  • Larva/physiology
  • Mutation
  • Myelin Sheath/metabolism*
  • Reflex, Startle
  • Zebrafish
34544838 Full text @ J. Neurosci.
Myelination is essential for central nervous system (CNS) formation, health and function. As a model organism, larval zebrafish have been extensively employed to investigate the molecular and cellular basis of CNS myelination, due to their genetic tractability and suitability for non-invasive live cell imaging. However, it has not been assessed to what extent CNS myelination affects neural circuit function in zebrafish larvae, prohibiting the integration of molecular and cellular analyses of myelination with concomitant network maturation. To test whether larval zebrafish might serve as a suitable platform with which to study the effects of CNS myelination and its dysregulation on circuit function, we generated zebrafish myelin regulatory factor (myrf) mutants with CNS-specific hypomyelination and investigated how this affected their axonal conduction properties and behaviour. We found that myrf mutant larvae exhibited increased latency to perform startle responses following defined acoustic stimuli. Furthermore, we found that hypomyelinated animals often selected an impaired response to acoustic stimuli, exhibiting a bias towards reorientation behaviour instead of the stimulus-appropriate startle response. To begin to study how myelination affected the underlying circuitry, we established electrophysiological protocols to assess various conduction properties along single axons. We found that the hypomyelinated myrf mutants exhibited reduced action potential conduction velocity and an impaired ability to sustain high frequency action potential firing. This study indicates that larval zebrafish can be used to bridge molecular and cellular investigation of CNS myelination with multiscale assessment of neural circuit function.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTMyelination of central nervous system axons is essential for their health and function, and it now clear that myelination is a dynamic life-long process subject to modulation by neuronal activity. However, it remains unclear precisely how changes to myelination affects animal behaviour and underlying action potential conduction along axons in intact neural circuits. In recent years, zebrafish have been employed to study cellular and molecular mechanisms of myelination, due to their relatively simple, optically transparent, experimentally tractable vertebrate nervous system. Here we find that changes to myelination alter the behaviour of young zebrafish and action potential conduction along individual axons, providing a platform to integrate molecular, cellular and circuit level analyses of myelination using this model.
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Mutations / Transgenics
Human Disease / Model
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Engineered Foreign Genes