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ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-090106-12
Plakoglobin has both structural and signalling roles in zebrafish development
Martin, E.D., Moriarty, M.A., Byrnes, L., and Grealy, M.
Date: 2009
Source: Developmental Biology   327(1): 83-96 (Journal)
Registered Authors: Byrnes, Lucy, Grealy, Maura, Moriarty, Miriam
Keywords: ARVC, Adherens junctions, Desmosomes, Zebrafish, Wnt/beta-catenin signalling, Plakoglobin, Morpholino, Heart development
MeSH Terms:
  • Animals
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Endothelial Cells/pathology
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Heart/embryology
  • Heart/growth & development*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital/genetics
  • Intercellular Junctions
  • Phenotype
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Wnt Proteins/metabolism
  • Zebrafish/growth & development*
  • gamma Catenin/genetics
  • gamma Catenin/physiology*
PubMed: 19101534 Full text @ Dev. Biol.
Plakoglobin, or gamma-catenin, is found in both desmosomes and adherens junctions and participates in Wnt signalling. Mutations in the human gene are implicated in the congenital heart disorder, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), but the signalling effects of plakoglobin loss in ARVC have not been established. Here we report that knockdown of plakoglobin in zebrafish results in decreased heart size, reduced heartbeat, cardiac oedema, reflux of blood between heart chambers and a twisted tail. Wholemount in situ hybridisation shows reduced expression of the heart markers nkx2.5 at 24 hours post fertilisation (hpf), and cmlc2 and vmhc at 48 hpf, while there is lack of restriction of the valve markers notch1b and bmp4 at 48 hpf. Wnt target gene expression was examined by semi-quantitative RT-PCR and found to be increased in morphant embryos indicating that plakoglobin is antagonistic to Wnt signalling. Co-expression of the Wnt inhibitor, Dkk1, rescues the cardiac phenotype of the plakoglobin morphant. beta-catenin protein expression is increased in morphant embryos as is its colocalisation with E-cadherin in adherens junctions. Endothelial cells at the atrioventricular boundary of morphant hearts have an aberrant morphology, indicating problems with valvulogenesis. Morphants also have decreased numbers of desmosomes and adherens junctions in the intercalated discs. These results establish the zebrafish as a model for ARVC caused by loss of plakoglobin function and indicate that there are signalling as well as structural consequences of this loss.