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Epilepsia. 2007 Jun;48(6):1151-7. Epub 2007 May 23.

A large-scale mutagenesis screen to identify seizure-resistant zebrafish.

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Epilepsy Research Laboratory in the Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.



Zebrafish are a vertebrate organism ideally suited to mutagenesis screening strategies. Although a genetic basis for seizure susceptibility and epilepsy is well established, no efforts have been made to study seizure resistance. Here we describe a novel strategy to isolate seizure-resistant zebrafish mutants from a large-scale mutagenesis screen.


Seizures were induced with pentylenetetrazole (PTZ). Zebrafish were analyzed between 3 and 7 days postfertilization (dpf). Genome mutations were induced in founders by using N-ethyl-nitrosourea (ENU). Seizure behavior was monitored by using a high-speed camera and quantified by locomotion-tracking software. Electrographic activity was monitored by using a field-recording electrode placed in the optic tectum of agar-immobilized zebrafish.


Short-term PTZ exposure elicited a burst-suppression seizure pattern in 3-dpf zebrafish and more complex activity consisting of interictal- and ictal-like discharges at 7 dpf. Prolonged exposure to PTZ induced status epilepticus-like seizure activity and fatality in wild-type zebrafish larvae. With a PTZ survival assay at 6-7 dpf, we identified six zebrafish mutants in a forward-genetic screen covering nearly 2,000 F(2) families. One mutant (s334) also was shown to exhibit reduced behavioral activity on short-term PTZ exposure and an inability to generate long-duration ictal-like discharge.


Zebrafish offers a powerful tool for the identification and study of a genetic basis for seizure resistance.

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