Goldsmith, M.I., Iovine, M.K., O'reilly-Pol, T., and Johnson, S.L. (2006) A developmental transition in growth control during zebrafish caudal fin development. Developmental Biology. 296(2):450-457.
A long-standing question in developmental biology is how do growing and developing animals achieve form and then maintain it. We have revealed a critical transition in growth control during zebrafish caudal fin development, wherein a switch from allometric to isometric growth occurs. This morphological transition led us to hypothesize additional physiological changes in growth control pathways. To test this, we fasted juvenile and adult zebrafish. Juvenile fins continued allometric growth until development of the mature bi-lobed shape was completed. In contrast, the isometric growth of mature adult fins arrested within days of initiating a fast. We explored the biochemical basis of this difference in physiology between the two phases by assessing the sensitivity to rapamycin, a drug that blocks a nutrient-sensing pathway. We show that the nutrition-independent, allometric growth phase is resistant to rapamycin at 10-fold higher concentrations than are effective at arresting growth in the nutrition-dependent, isometric growth phase. We thus link a morphological transition in growth control between allometric and isometric growth mechanisms to different physiological responses to nutritional state of the animal and finally to different pharmacological responses to a drug (rapamycin) that affects the nutrition-sensing mechanism described from yeast to human.