Yuan, Y., Lin, S., Zhu, Z., Zhang, W., and Lai, Z.C. (2009) The mob as tumor suppressor (mats1) gene is required for growth control in developing zebrafish embryos. The International journal of developmental biology. 53(4):525-533.
The mob as tumor suppressor (mats) family genes are highly conserved in evolution. The Drosophila mats gene functions in the Hippo signaling pathway to control tissue growth by regulating cell proliferation and apoptosis. However, nothing is known about whether mats family genes are required for the normal development of vertebrates. Here we report that zebrafish has three mats family genes. Expression of mats1 is maternally activated and continues during embryogenesis. Through a morpholino-based knockdown approach, we found that mats1 is required for normal embryonic development. Reduction of mats1 function caused developmental delay, a phenotype similar to that of Drosophila mats homozygous mutants. Both cell proliferation and apoptosis were defective in mats1 morphant embryos. Moreover, mats1 morphant cells exhibited a growth advantage in chimeric embryos, similar to mats mutant cells in mosaic tissues in Drosophila. Therefore mats1 plays a critical role in regulating cell proliferation and apoptosis during early development in zebrafish, and the role of mats family genes in growth regulation is conserved in both invertebrates and vertebrates. This work shows that zebrafish can be a good model organism for further analysis of Hippo signaling pathway.