Fibroblast growth factor (Fgf) signaling plays important roles in various developmental processes including brain development.
Here, we identified zebrafish fgf22 predominantly expressed in the posterior midbrain and anterior midbrain–hindbrain boundary (MHB) primordia during early embryonic
brain development. To examine roles of Fgf22 in midbrain development, we analyzed fgf22 knockdown embryos. The fgf22 morphants were defective in proper formation of the MHB constriction and the midbrain. The knockdown of fgf22 caused decreased cell proliferation in the midbrain, expanded expression of roof plate and tegmental marker genes, and decreased
expression of tectal marker genes, indicating that Fgf22 is required for cell proliferation, roof plate formation, and tectum
specification in the midbrain. Fgf receptor 2b (Fgfr2b), a potential receptor for Fgf22, was also required, indicating that
Fgf22 signaling is mediated through Fgfr2b. The floor plate and the MHB are crucial for the dorsoventral patterning of the
midbrain through Hedgehog (Hh) and Fgf signaling, respectively. The fgf3/fgf8 double morphant phenotype was essentially similar to that of fgf22 morphants, whereas the phenotype caused by inhibition of Hh signaling was not. fgf3 and fgf8 were expressed earlier than fgf22 in the MHB primordium and Fgf3/Fgf8 signaling was required for fgf22 expression in the posterior midbrain. Furthermore, fgf22 partially rescued the fgf3/fgf8 double morphant phenotype. The present results indicate Fgf22 to be involved in midbrain development downstream of Fgf3 and
Fgf8 in the MHB but not of Hh in the floor plate.