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Generation of MuRF-GFP transgenic zebrafish models for investigating murf gene expression and protein localization in Smyd1b and Hsp90α1 knockdown embryos

Li B, Li S, He Q, Du S
Comp Biochem Physiol B. 2019;[Epub ahead of print] doi:10.1016/j.cbpb.2019.110368
Muscle-specific RING-finger proteins (MuRFs) are E3 ubiquitin ligases that play important roles in protein quality control in skeletal and cardiac muscles. Here we characterized murf gene expression and protein localization in zebrafish embryos. We found that the zebrafish genome contains six murf genes, including murf1a, murf1b, murf2a, murf2b, murf3 and a murf2-like gene that are specifically expressed in skeletal and cardiac muscles of zebrafish embryos. To analyze the subcellular localization, we generated transgenic zebrafish models expressing MurF1a-GFP or MuRF2a-GFP fusion proteins. MuRF1a-GFP and MuRF2a-GFP showed distinct patterns of subcellular localization. MuRF1a-GFP displayed a striated pattern of localization in myofibers, whereas MuRF2a-GFP mainly exhibited a random pattern of punctate distribution. The MuRF1a-GFP signal appeared as small dots aligned along the M-lines of the sarcomeres in skeletal myofibers. To determine whether knockdown of smyd1b or hsp90α1 that increased myosin protein degradation could alter murf gene expression or MuRF protein localization, we knocked down smyd1b or hsp90α1 in wild type, Tg(ef1a:MurF1a-GFP) and Tg(ef1a:MuRF2a-GFP) transgenic zebrafish embryos. Knockdown of smyd1b or hsp90α1 had no effect on murf gene expression. However, the sarcomeric distribution of MuRF1a-GFP was abolished in the knockdown embryos. This was accompanied by an increased random punctate distribution of MuRF1a-GFP in muscle cells of zebrafish embryos. Collectively, these studies demonstrate that MuRFs are specifically expressed in developing muscles of zebrafish embryos. The M-line localization MuRF1a is altered by sarcomere disruption in smyd1b or hsp90α1 knockdown embryos.
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