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Methods Mol Biol. 2011;768:273-96. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-204-5_15.

Use of zebrafish and knockdown technology to define proprotein convertase activity.

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  • 1Endocrine Research Laboratory and Department of Medicine, Royal Victoria Hospital and McGill University Health Centre Research Institute, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1A1.


The Zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a powerful and well-established tool used extensively for the study of early vertebrate development and as a model of human diseases. Zebrafish genes orthologous to their mammalian counterparts generally share conserved biological function. Protein knockdown or overexpression can be effectively achieved by microinjection of morpholino antisense oligonucleotides (MOs) or mRNA, respectively, into developing embryos at the one- to two-cell stage. Correlating gene expression patterns with the characterizing of phenotypes resulting from over- or underexpression can reveal the function of a particular protein. The microinjection technique is simple and results are reproducible. We defined the expression pattern of the proprotein convertase PCSK5 within the lateral line neuromasts and various organs including the liver, gut and otic vesicle by whole-mount in situ hybridization (ISH) and immunofluorescence (IF). MO-mediated knockdown of zebrafish PCSK5 expression generated embryos that display abnormal neuromast deposition within the lateral line system resulting in uncoordinated patterns of swimming.

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