Background The purpose of this study was to identify transcripts of retinal rod photoreceptors of the zebrafish. The zebrafish is an important animal model for vision science due to rapid and tractable development, persistent neurogenesis of rods throughout the lifespan, and capacity for functional retinal regeneration.
Results Zebrafish rods, and non-rod retinal cells of the xops:eGFP transgenic line, were separated by cell dissociation and fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), followed by RNA-seq. At a false discovery rate of < 0.01, 597 transcripts were upregulated ("enriched") in rods vs. other retinal cells, and 1032 were downregulated ("depleted"). Thirteen thousand three hundred twenty four total transcripts were detected in rods, including many not previously known to be expressed by rods. Forty five transcripts were validated by qPCR in FACS-sorted rods vs. other retinal cells. Transcripts enriched in rods from adult retinas were also enriched in rods from larval and juvenile retinas, and were also enriched in rods sorted from retinas subjected to a neurotoxic lesion and allowed to regenerate. Many transcripts enriched in rods were upregulated in retinas of wildtype retinas vs. those of a zebrafish model for rod degeneration.
Conclusions We report the generation and validation of an RNA-seq dataset describing the rod transcriptome of the zebrafish, which is now available as a resource for further studies of rod photoreceptor biology and comparative transcriptomics.