Holterhoff, C.K., Saunders, R.H., Brito, E.E., and Wagner, D.S. (2009) Sequence and expression of the zebrafish alpha-actinin gene family reveals conservation and diversification among vertebrates. Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists. 238(11):2936-2947.
alpha-actinins are actin microfilament crosslinking proteins. Vertebrate actinins fall into two classes: the broadly-expressed actinins 1 and 4 (actn1 and actn4) and muscle-specific actinins, actn2 and actn3. Members of this family have numerous roles, including regulation of cell adhesion, cell differentiation, directed cell motility, intracellular signaling, and stabilization of f-actin at the sarcomeric Z-line in muscle. Here we identify five zebrafish actinin genes including two paralogs of ACTN3. We describe the temporal and spatial expression patterns of these genes through embryonic development. All zebrafish actinin genes have unique expression profiles, indicating specialization of each gene. In particular, the muscle actinins display preferential expression in different domains of axial, pharyngeal, and cranial musculature. There is no identified avian actn3 and approximately 16% of humans are null for ACTN3. Duplication of actn3 in the zebrafish indicates that variation in actn3 expression may promote physiological diversity in muscle function among vertebrates.