A Combined Human in Silico and CRISPR/Cas9-Mediated in Vivo Zebrafish Based Approach to Provide Phenotypic Data for Supporting Early Target Validation

Winter, M.J., Ono, Y., Ball, J.S., Walentinsson, A., Michaelsson, E., Tochwin, A., Scholpp, S., Tyler, C.R., Rees, S., Hetheridge, M.J., Bohlooly-Y, M.
Frontiers in pharmacology   13: 827686 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Ono, Yosuke, Scholpp, Steffen, Tyler, Charles R.
CRISPR/Cas9, drug target identification and validation, heart failure, human whole exome sequencing, zebrafish
MeSH Terms
35548346 Full text @ Front Pharmacol
The clinical heterogeneity of heart failure has challenged our understanding of the underlying genetic mechanisms of this disease. In this respect, large-scale patient DNA sequencing studies have become an invaluable strategy for identifying potential genetic contributing factors. The complex aetiology of heart failure, however, also means that in vivo models are vital to understand the links between genetic perturbations and functional impacts as part of the process for validating potential new drug targets. Traditional approaches (e.g., genetically-modified mice) are optimal for assessing small numbers of genes, but less practical when multiple genes are identified. The zebrafish, in contrast, offers great potential for higher throughput in vivo gene functional assessment to aid target prioritisation, by providing more confidence in target relevance and facilitating gene selection for definitive loss of function studies undertaken in mice. Here we used whole-exome sequencing and bioinformatics on human patient data to identify 3 genes (API5, HSPB7, and LMO2) suggestively associated with heart failure that were also predicted to play a broader role in disease aetiology. The role of these genes in cardiovascular system development and function was then further investigated using in vivo CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene mutation analysis in zebrafish. We observed multiple impacts in F0 knockout zebrafish embryos (crispants) following effective somatic mutation, including changes in ventricle size, pericardial oedema, and chamber malformation. In the case of lmo2, there was also a significant impact on cardiovascular function as well as an expected reduction in erythropoiesis. The data generated from both the human in silico and zebrafish in vivo assessments undertaken supports further investigation of the potential roles of API5, HSPB7, and LMO2 in human cardiovascular disease. The data presented also supports the use of human in silico genetic variant analysis, in combination with zebrafish crispant phenotyping, as a powerful approach for assessing gene function as part of an integrated multi-level drug target validation strategy.
Genes / Markers
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Mutations / Transgenics
Human Disease / Model
Sequence Targeting Reagents
Engineered Foreign Genes