Zebrafish as a model to study peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism in vertebrate development
To unravel the role of thyroid hormones (THs) in vertebrate development it is important to have suitable animal models to study the mechanisms regulating TH availability and activity. Zebrafish (Danio rerio), with its rapidly and externally developing transparent embryo has been a widely used model in developmental biology for some time. To date many of the components of the zebrafish thyroid axis have been identified, including the TH transporters MCT8, MCT10 and OATP1C1, the deiodinases D1, D2 and D3, and the receptors TRa and TRb. Their structure and function closely resemble those of higher vertebrates. Interestingly, due to a whole genome duplication in the early evolution of ray-finned fishes, zebrafish possess two genes for D3 (dio3 and dio3a) and for TRa (thraa and thrab). Transcripts of all identified genes are present during embryonic development and several of them show dynamic spatio-temporal distribution patterns. Transient morpholino-knockdown of D2, D3 or MCT8 expression clearly disturbs embryonic development, confirming the importance of each of these regulators during early life stages. The recently available tools for targeted stable gene knockout will further increase the value of zebrafish to study the role of peripheral TH metabolism in pre- and post-hatch/post-natal vertebrate development.
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