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Early frameshift alleles of zebrafish tbx5a that fail to develop the heartstrings phenotype

By Elena Chiavacci, Lucia Kirchgeorg, Anastasia Felker, Alexa Burger, Christian Mosimann

Posted 25 Jan 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/103168 (published DOI: 10.19185/matters.201703000011)

Tbx5 is a key transcription factor for vertebrate heart and forelimb development that causes Holt-Oram syndrome when mutated in humans. The classic zebrafish mutant for tbx5a named heartstrings (hst) features recessive absence of pectoral fins and a spectrum of heart defects, most-prominently featuring the name-giving stretched heart tube. The mutation of the hst allele is a stop codon that is predicted to result in a truncated Tbx5a protein that might feature residual activity. Here, using CRISPR-Cas9 mutagenesis, we generated zebrafish strains for two new tbx5a frameshift alleles in the first coding exon: tbx5a c.21_25del and tbx5a c.22_31del, abbreviated as tbx5aΔ5 and tbx5aΔ10. Homozygous and trans-heterozygous combinations of these new tbx5a alleles cause fully penetrant loss of pectoral fins and heart defects including changes in cardiac marker expression akin to hst mutants. Nonetheless, distinct from hst mutants, homozygous and trans-heterozygous combinations of these tbx5a frameshift mutants do not readily manifest the stretched hst heart phenotype. Our observation points out the importance and value of comparing phenotypes from different classes of mutant alleles per gene.

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