Daya, A., Vatine, G.D., Becker-Cohen, M., Tal-Goldberg, T., Friedmann, A., Gothilf, Y., Du, S.J., and Mitrani-Rosenbaum, S. (2014) Gne depletion during zebrafish development impairs skeletal muscle structure and function. Human molecular genetics. 23(13):3349-61.
GNE Myopathy is a rare recessively inherited neuromuscular disorder caused by mutations in the GNE gene, which codes for the key enzyme in the metabolic pathway of sialic acid synthesis. The process by which GNE mutations lead to myopathy is not well understood. By in situ hybridization and gne promoter-driven fluorescent transgenic fish generation, we have characterized the spatiotemporal expression pattern of the
zebrafish gne gene and have shown that it is highly conserved compared with the human ortholog. We also show the deposition of maternal
gne mRNA and maternal GNE protein at the earliest embryonic stage, emphasizing the critical role of gne in embryonic development. Injection of morpholino (MO)-modified antisense oligonucleotides specifically designed to knockdown
gne, into one-cell embryos lead to a variety of phenotypic severity. Characterization of the gne knockdown morphants showed a significantly reduced locomotor activity as well as distorted muscle integrity, including a
reduction in the number of muscle myofibers, even in mild or intermediate phenotype morphants. These findings were further
confirmed by electron microscopy studies, where large gaps between sarcolemmas were visualized, although normal sarcomeric
structures were maintained. These results demonstrate a critical novel role for gne in embryonic development and particularly in myofiber development, muscle integrity and activity.