Duncan, K., Mukherjee, K., Cornell, R.A., Liao, E.C. (2017) Zebrafish models of orofacial clefts. Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists. 246(11):897-914.
Zebrafish is a model organism that affords experimental advantages toward investigating the normal function of genes associated with congenital birth defects. Here we summarize zebrafish studies of genes implicated in orofacial cleft (OFC). The most common use of zebrafish in this context has been to explore the normal function an OFC-associated gene product in craniofacial morphogenesis by inhibiting expression of its zebrafish ortholog. The most frequently deployed method has been to inject embryos with antisense morpholino oligonucleotides targeting the desired transcript. However improvements in targeted mutagenesis strategies have led to widespread adoption of CRISPR/Cas9 technology. A second application of zebrafish has been for functional assays of gene variants found in OFC patients; such in vivo assays are valuable because the success of in silico methods for testing allele severity has been mixed. Finally, zebrafish have been used to test the tissue specificity of enhancers that harbor single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with risk for OFC. We review examples of each of these approaches in the context of genes that are implicated in syndromic and non-syndromic OFC. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.