Pelegri, F., Dekens, M.P., Schulte-Merker, S., Maischein, H.M., Weiler, C., and Nüsslein-Volhard, C. (2004) Identification of recessive maternal-effect mutations in the zebrafish using a gynogenesis-based method. Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists. 231(2):324-335.
In animal species, early developmental processes are driven by maternally derived factors. Here, we describe a forward genetics approach to identify recessive mutations in genes encoding such maternal factors in the zebrafish. We used a gynogenesis-based approach to identify 14 recessive maternal-effect mutations. Homozygosity for these mutations in adult females leads to the inviability of their offspring. Confocal microscopy of embryos labeled with a DNA dye and a membrane marker allowed us to further analyze mutant embryos for defects in nuclear and cellular divisions. The mutations result in a range of defects in early developmental processes, including egg activation, early nuclear events, mitosis, cytokinesis, axial patterning, and gastrulation. Our effort constitutes a systematic attempt to identify maternal-effect genes in a vertebrate species. The sample of mutations that we have identified reflects the diversity of maternally driven functions in early development and underscores the importance of maternal factors in this process. Developmental Dynamics 231:324-335, 2004. Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.