Baumgartner, E.A., Compton, Z.J., Evans, S., Topczewski, J., LeClair, E.E. (2019) Identification of regulatory elements recapitulating early expression of L-plastin in the zebrafish enveloping layer and embryonic periderm. Gene expression patterns : GEP. 32:53-66.
We have cloned and characterized an intronic fragment of zebrafish lymphocyte cytosolic protein 1 (lcp1, also called L-plastin) that drives expression to the zebrafish enveloping layer (EVL). L-plastin is a calcium-dependent actin-bundling protein belonging to the plastin/fimbrin family of proteins, and is necessary for the proper migration and attachment of several adult cell types, including leukocytes and osteoclasts. Unexpectedly, we have found that lcp1 is abundantly expressed much earlier, during differentiation of the EVL. The cells of this epithelial layer migrate collectively, spreading vegetally over the yolk. L-plastin expression persists into the larval periderm, a transient epithelial tissue that forms the first larval skin. This finding establishes that L-plastin is activated in two different embryonic waves, with a distinct regulatory switch between the early EVL and the later leukocyte. To better study L-plastin expressing cells we attempted CRISPR/Cas9 homology-driven recombination (HDR) to insert a self-cleaving peptide (Cre-P2A-EGFP-CAAX) downstream of the native lcp1 promoter. This produced a stable zebrafish line expressing Cre recombinase in EVL nuclei and green fluorescence in EVL cell membranes. In vivo tracking of these labeled cells provided enhanced views of EVL migration behavior, membrane extensions, and mitotic events. Finally, we experimentally dissected key elements of the targeted lcp1 locus, discovering a ∼300 bp intronic sequence sufficient to drive EVL expression. The lcp1: Cre-P2A-EGFP-CAAX zebrafish should be useful for studying enveloping layer specification, gastrulation movements and periderm development in this widely used vertebrate model. In addition, the conserved regulatory sequences we have isolated predict that L-plastin orthologs may have a similar expression pattern in other vertebrate embryos.