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Physiol Genomics. 2006 Oct 3;27(1):79-85. Epub 2006 Jul 18.

Early developmental expression of two insulins in zebrafish (Danio rerio).

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Department of Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho 83844-2330, USA.


We have cloned a second insulin gene in zebrafish and studied temporal and spatial expression of two zebrafish insulin genes. Zebrafish insulin-a (insa) and -b (insb) mRNAs are derived from two different DNA contigs on chromosomes 5 and 14, respectively, representing two different insulin genes. Real-time PCR studies suggest that insa is a maternal and also a postzygotic transcript. insa was observed at 1 h postfertilization (hpf) and was rapidly degraded by 6 and 12 hpf but induced at 24 hpf (i.e., after pancreas formation). Expression levels at 24 hpf were approximately 220-fold higher than at 6 hpf and were significantly different from earlier time points. At 72 hpf (at time of hatching), zebrafish insa mRNA levels tended to be higher than at 24 hpf and were approximately 727-fold higher compared with 6 hpf. This further increase in insa expression may be one of the many rapid physiological changes associated with hatching. insb expression was observed from 1 hpf and was significantly decreased from 12 hpf onward. Its expression levels at 12 and 24 hpf were approximately twofold and sixfold lower, respectively, compared with expression at 6 hpf. insb expression levels at 48 hpf were significantly lower than at 24 hpf but not different from 72 hpf. Expression levels at 72 hpf were approximately 61-fold lower than at 6 hpf. In situ hybridization studies showed insb expression in proliferating blastomeres at 3 and 4 hpf. At later time points, insb expression was restricted to the brain and pancreas (24 and 48 hpf). insa expression was observed in the pancreas at 24 and 48 hpf. Expression of insb in blastomeres and head suggests that insb could be acting as a pro-growth, survival, and neurotrophic factor during development. Pancreatic insa and insb may both be involved in regulation of glucose homeostasis as in mammals.

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