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Matrix Biol. 2007 Mar;26(2):115-24. Epub 2006 Oct 3.

Differential expression of two tropoelastin genes in zebrafish.

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Cardiovascular Research, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Elastin is the extracellular matrix protein responsible for properties of extensibility and elastic recoil in large blood vessels, lung and skin of most vertebrates. Elastin is synthesized as a monomer, tropoelastin, but is rapidly transformed into its final polymeric form in the extracellular matrix. Until recently information on sequence and developmental expression of tropoelastins was limited to mammalian and avian species. We have recently identified and characterized two expressed tropoelastin genes in zebrafish. This was the first example of a species with multiple tropoelastin genes, raising the possibility of differential expression and function of these tropoelastins in elastic tissues of the zebrafish. Here we have investigated the temporal expression and tissue distribution of the two tropoelastin genes in developing and adult zebrafish. Expression was detected early in skeletal cartilage structures of the head, in the developing outflow tract of the heart, including the bulbus arteriosus and the ventral aorta, and in the wall of the swim bladder. While the temporal pattern of expression was similar for both genes, the upregulation of eln2 was much stronger than that of eln1. In general, both genes were expressed and their gene products deposited in most of the elastic tissues examined, with the notable exception of the bulbus arteriosus in which eln2 expression and its gene product was predominant. This finding may represent a sub-specialization of eln2 to provide the unique architecture of elastin and the specific mechanical properties required by this organ.

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