Wen, L., Wei, W., Gu, W., Huang, P., Ren, X., Zhang, Z., Zhu, Z., Lin, S., and Zhang, B. (2008) Visualization of monoaminergic neurons and neurotoxicity of MPTP in live transgenic zebrafish. Developmental Biology. 314(1):84-92.
We describe an enhancer trap transgenic zebrafish line, ETvmat2:GFP, in which most monoaminergic neurons are labeled by green fluorescent protein (GFP) during embryonic development. The reporter gene of ETvmat2:GFP was inserted into the second intron of vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (vmat2) gene, and the GFP expression pattern recapitulates that of the vmat2 gene. The GFP positive neurons include the large and pear-shaped tyrosine hydroxylase positive neurons (TH populations 2 and 4) in the posterior tuberculum of ventral diencephalon (PT neurons), which are thought to be equivalent to the midbrain dopamine neurons in mammals. We found that these PT neurons and two other GFP labeled non-TH type neuronal groups, one in the paraventricular organ of the posterior tuberculum and the other in the hypothalamus, were significantly reduced after exposure to MPTP, while the rest of GFP-positive neuronal clusters, including those in telencephalon, pretectum, raphe nuclei and locus coeruleus, remain largely unchanged. Furthermore, we showed that the effects of hedgehog signaling pathway inhibition on the development of monoaminergic neurons can be easily visualized in individual living ETvmat2:GFP embryos. This enhancer trap line should be useful for genetic and pharmacological analyses of monoaminergic neuron development and processes underlying Parkinson's disease.