Helterline, D.L., Garikipati, D., Stenkamp, D.L., and Rodgers, B.D. (2007) Embryonic and tissue-specific regulation of myostatin-1 and -2 gene expression in zebrafish. General and comparative endocrinology. 151(1):90-97.
Myostatin is a member of the TGF-beta superfamily and a potent negative regulator of muscle growth and development in mammals. Its expression is limited primarily to skeletal muscle in mammals, but occurs in many different fish tissues, although quantitative measurements of the embryonic and tissue-specific expression profiles are lacking. A recent phylogenetic analysis of all known myostatin genes identified a novel paralogue in zebrafish, zfMSTN-2, and prompted the reclassification of the entire subfamily to include MSTN-1 and -2 sister clades in the bony fishes. The differential expression profiles of both genes were therefore determined using custom RNA panels generated from pooled (100-150/sampling) embryos at different stages of development and from individual adult tissues. High levels of both transcripts were transiently present at the blastula stage, but were undetectable throughout gastrulation (7hpf). Levels of zfMSTN-2 peaked during early somitogenesis (11hpf), returned to basal levels during late somitogenesis and did not begin to rise again until hatching (72hpf). By contrast, zfMSTN-1 mRNA levels peaked during late somitogenesis (15.5-19hpf), returned to baseline at 21.5hpf and eventually rose 25-fold by 72hpf. In adults, both transcripts were present in a wide variety of tissues, including some not previously known to express myostatin. Expression of zfMSTN-1 was highest in brain, muscle, heart and testes and was 1-3 log orders above that in other tissues. It was also greater than zfMSTN-2 expression in most tissues, nevertheless, levels of both transcripts increased almost 600-fold in spleens of fish subjected to stocking stress. Myostatin expression was also detected in mouse spleens, suggesting that myostatin may influence immune cell development in mammals as well as fish. These studies indicate that zfMSTN-1 and -2 gene expression is differentially regulated in developing fish embryos and in adult tissues. The increased expression of both genes in spleens from stressed fish is further supportive of an immunomodulatory role and may explain increased disease susceptibility associated with stocking stress.