Abramsson, A., Kettunen, P., Banote, R.K., Lott, E., Li, M., Arner, A., and Zetterberg, H. (2013) The zebrafish amyloid precursor protein-b is required for motor neuron guidance and synapse formation. Developmental Biology. 381(2):377-88.
The amyloid precursor protein (APP) is a transmembrane protein mostly recognized for its association with Alzheimer's disease. The physiological function of APP is still not completely understood much because of the redundancy between genes in the APP family. In this study we have used zebrafish to study the physiological function of the zebrafish APP homologue, appb, during development. We show that appb is expressed in post-mitotic neurons in the spinal cord. Knockdown of appb by 50–60% results in a behavioral phenotype with increased spontaneous coiling and prolonged touch-induced activity. The spinal cord motor neurons in these embryos show defective formation and axonal outgrowth patterning. Reduction in Appb also results in patterning defects and changed density of pre- and post-synapses in the neuromuscular junctions. Together, our data show that development of functional locomotion in zebrafish depends on a critical role of Appb in the patterning of motor neurons and neuromuscular junctions.