Cocaine modulates the expression of transcription factors related to the dopaminergic system in zebrafish.Neuroscience. 2013 Feb 12; 231:258-71.N
Nodal-related protein, Ndr2, and transcription factors such as Lmx1b, Otp, Nurr1 and Pitx3 are very important in the differentiation, function and maintenance of mesodiencephalic dopaminergic neurons, and are necessary for the activation of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and dopamine (DA) transporter expression. Hence, the aim of the present work was to evaluate the effects of cocaine on the expression of genes related to the embryogenesis development of the dopaminergic system. Zebrafish embryos were exposed to cocaine hydrochloride at 5h post-fertilization (hpf), and collected at two important stages - 24 and 48hpf - to study the effects of cocaine on the expression of ndr2, the lmx1b.1, lmx1b.2, otpa, otpb, nurr1 transcription factors, and their target genes: TH and DA transporter expression. Our results by qPCR showed that cocaine affects the expression of these genes in different ways, depending on the stage of development. Furthermore by in situ hybridization we observed a change in the spatial distribution of lmx1b.1 and lmx1b.2 at both stages (24 and 48hpf) due to exposure to cocaine. We also show the importance of Lmx1b and Otp in th expression through the knockdown of Lmx1b.1 and Lmx1b.2, and of Otpa and Otpb. Additionally, cocaine produced an increase and a decrease in TH levels at 24 and at 48hpf, respectively, possibly due to the change in the expression of the transcription factors and ndr2 expression. We conclude that cocaine alters the correct development of dopaminergic system affecting the expression of transcription factors, during the embryogenesis.