Bian, Y.H., Xu, C., Li, J., Xu, J., Zhang, H., and Du, S.J. (2011) Development of a transgenic zebrafish model expressing GFP in the notochord, somite and liver directed by the hfe2 gene promoter. Transgenic Research. 20(4):787-98.
Hemojuvelin, also known as RGMc, is encoded by hfe2 gene that plays an important role in iron homeostasis. hfe2 is specifically expressed in the notochord, developing somite and skeletal muscles during development. The molecular regulation of hfe2 expression is, however, not clear. We reported here the characterization of hfe2 gene expression and the regulation of its tissue-specific expression in zebrafish embryos. We demonstrated that the 6 kb 5'-flanking sequence upstream of the ATG start codon in the zebrafish hfe2 gene could direct GFP specific expression in the notochord, somites, and skeletal muscle of zebrafish embryos, recapitulating the expression pattern of the endogenous gene. However, the Tg(hfe2:gfp) transgene is also expressed in the liver of fish embryos, which did not mimic the expression of the endogenous hfe2 at the early stage. Nevertheless, the Tg(hfe2:gfp) transgenic zebrafish provides a useful model to study liver development. Treating Tg(hfe2:gfp) transgenic zebrafish embryos with valproic acid, a liver development inhibitor, significantly inhibited GFP expression in zebrafish. Together, these data indicate that the tissue specific expression of hfe2 in the notochord, somites and muscles is regulated by regulatory elements within the 6 kb 5'-flanking sequence of the hfe2 gene. Moreover, the Tg(hfe2:gfp) transgenic zebrafish line provides a useful model system for analyzing liver development in zebrafish.