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PLOS ONE  2012 

Fishing the Molecular Bases of Treacher Collins Syndrome

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029574

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Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS) is an autosomal dominant disorder of craniofacial development, and mutations in the TCOF1 gene are responsible for over 90% of TCS cases. The knowledge about the molecular mechanisms responsible for this syndrome is relatively scant, probably due to the difficulty of reproducing the pathology in experimental animals. Zebrafish is an emerging model for human disease studies, and we therefore assessed it as a model for studying TCS. We identified in silico the putative zebrafish TCOF1 ortholog and cloned the corresponding cDNA. The derived polypeptide shares the main structural domains found in mammals and amphibians. Tcof1 expression is restricted to the anterior-most regions of zebrafish developing embryos, similar to what happens in mouse embryos. Tcof1 loss-of-function resulted in fish showing phenotypes similar to those observed in TCS patients, and enabled a further characterization of the mechanisms underlying craniofacial malformation. Besides, we initiated the identification of potential molecular targets of treacle in zebrafish. We found that Tcof1 loss-of-function led to a decrease in the expression of cellular proliferation and craniofacial development. Together, results presented here strongly suggest that it is possible to achieve fish with TCS-like phenotype by knocking down the expression of the TCOF1 ortholog in zebrafish. This experimental condition may facilitate the study of the disease etiology during embryonic development.


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