ResearchPad - zebra https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[DnaJ-PKAc fusion induces liver inflammation in a zebrafish model of fibrolamellar carcinoma]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N6caa7ca8-11eb-46b1-8fa5-5c06a6cb1ad6 Summary: Inflammation and Caspase-a activation occur early in a new zebrafish model for fibrolamellar carcinoma (FLC). Pharmacological inhibition of TNFα secretion and caspase-1 might be useful approaches to treat FLC patients.

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<![CDATA[Determining macrophage versus neutrophil contributions to innate immunity using larval zebrafish]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N7566ba72-d177-4da5-96bb-c8dc34764f0d

ABSTRACT

The specific roles of the two major innate immune cell types – neutrophils and macrophages – in response to infection and sterile inflammation are areas of great interest. The larval zebrafish model of innate immunity, and the imaging capabilities it provides, is a source of new research and discoveries in this field. Multiple methods have been developed in larval zebrafish to specifically deplete functional macrophages or neutrophils. Each of these has pros and cons, as well as caveats, that often make it difficult to directly compare results from different studies. The purpose of this Review is to (1) explore the pros, cons and caveats of each of these immune cell-depleted models; (2) highlight and place into a broader context recent key findings on the specific functions of innate immune cells using these models; and (3) explore future directions in which immune cell depletion methods are being expanded.

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<![CDATA[Establishment and validation of an endoplasmic reticulum stress reporter to monitor zebrafish ATF6 activity in development and disease]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N49883a74-af5f-4ec1-ba08-29c0037f55a7

ABSTRACT

Induction of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is associated with diverse developmental and degenerative diseases. Modified ER homeostasis causes activation of conserved stress pathways at the ER called the unfolded protein response (UPR). ATF6 is a transcription factor activated during ER stress as part of a coordinated UPR. ATF6 resides at the ER and, upon activation, is transported to the Golgi apparatus, where it is cleaved by proteases to create an amino-terminal cytoplasmic fragment (ATF6f). ATF6f translocates to the nucleus to activate transcriptional targets. Here, we describe the establishment and validation of zebrafish reporter lines for ATF6 activity. These transgenic lines are based on a defined and multimerized ATF6 consensus site, which drives either eGFP or destabilized eGFP, enabling dynamic study of ATF6 activity during development and disease. The results show that the reporter is specific for the ATF6 pathway, active during development and induced in disease models known to engage UPR. Specifically, during development, ATF6 activity is highest in the lens, skeletal muscle, fins and gills. The reporter is also activated by common chemical inducers of ER stress, including tunicamycin, thapsigargin and brefeldin A, as well as by heat shock. In models for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and cone dystrophy, ATF6 reporter expression is induced in spinal cord interneurons or photoreceptors, respectively, suggesting a role for ATF6 response in multiple neurodegenerative diseases. Collectively our results show that these ATF6 reporters can be used to monitor ATF6 activity changes throughout development and in zebrafish models of disease.

This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.

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<![CDATA[Scrutinizing assortative mating in birds]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c784fead5eed0c4840078f1

It is often claimed that pair bonds preferentially form between individuals that resemble one another. Such assortative mating appears to be widespread throughout the animal kingdom. Yet it is unclear whether the apparent ubiquity of assortative mating arises primarily from mate choice (“like attracts like”), which can be constrained by same-sex competition for mates; from spatial or temporal separation; or from observer, reporting, publication, or search bias. Here, based on a conventional literature search, we find compelling meta-analytical evidence for size-assortative mating in birds (r = 0.178, 95% CI 0.142–0.215, 83 species, 35,591 pairs). However, our analyses reveal that this effect vanishes gradually with increased control of confounding factors. Specifically, the effect size decreased by 42% when we used previously unpublished data from nine long-term field studies, i.e., data free of reporting and publication bias (r = 0.103, 95% CI 0.074–0.132, eight species, 16,611 pairs). Moreover, in those data, assortative mating effectively disappeared when both partners were measured by independent observers or separately in space and time (mean r = 0.018, 95% CI −0.016–0.057). Likewise, we also found no evidence for assortative mating in a direct experimental test for mutual mate choice in captive populations of Zebra finches (r = −0.020, 95% CI −0.148–0.107, 1,414 pairs). These results highlight the importance of unpublished data in generating unbiased meta-analytical conclusions and suggest that the apparent ubiquity of assortative mating reported in the literature is overestimated and may not be driven by mate choice or mating competition for preferred mates.

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<![CDATA[A low-threshold potassium current enhances sparseness and reliability in a model of avian auditory cortex]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c58d63bd5eed0c484031922

Birdsong is a complex vocal communication signal, and like humans, birds need to discriminate between similar sequences of sound with different meanings. The caudal mesopallium (CM) is a cortical-level auditory area implicated in song discrimination. CM neurons respond sparsely to conspecific song and are tolerant of production variability. Intracellular recordings in CM have identified a diversity of intrinsic membrane dynamics, which could contribute to the emergence of these higher-order functional properties. We investigated this hypothesis using a novel linear-dynamical cascade model that incorporated detailed biophysical dynamics to simulate auditory responses to birdsong. Neuron models that included a low-threshold potassium current present in a subset of CM neurons showed increased selectivity and coding efficiency relative to models without this current. These results demonstrate the impact of intrinsic dynamics on sensory coding and the importance of including the biophysical characteristics of neural populations in simulation studies.

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<![CDATA[Base composition is the primary factor responsible for the variation of amino acid usage in zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c117b88d5eed0c4846998fc

In the present study, we carried out an examination of the amino acid usage in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) proteome. We found that tRNA abundance, base composition, hydrophobicity and aromaticity, protein second structure, cysteine residue (Cys) content and protein molecular weight had significant impact on the amino acid usage of the zebra finch. The above factors explained the total variability of 22.85%, 25.37%, 10.91%, 5.06%, 4.21%, and 3.14%, respectively. Altogether, approximately 70% of the total variability in zebra finch could be explained by such factors. Comparison of the amino acid usage between zebra finch, chicken (Gallus gallus) and human (Homo sapiens) suggested that the average frequency of various amino acid usage is generally consistent among them. Correspondence analysis indicated that base composition was the primary factor affecting the amino acid usage in zebra finch. This trend was different from chicken, but similar to human. Other factors affecting the amino acid usage in zebra finch, such as isochore structure, protein second structure, Cys frequency and protein molecular weight also showed the similar trends with human. We do not know whether the similar amino acid usage trend between human and zebra finch is related to the distinctive neural and behavioral traits, but it is worth studying in depth.

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<![CDATA[Distribution and Abundance of Glucocorticoid and Mineralocorticoid Receptors throughout the Brain of the Great Tit (Parus major)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da9aab0ee8fa60ba37df

The glucocorticoid stress response, regulated by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, enables individuals to cope with stressors through transcriptional effects in cells expressing the appropriate receptors. The two receptors that bind glucocorticoids—the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) and glucocorticoid receptor (GR)—are present in a variety of vertebrate tissues, but their expression in the brain is especially important. Neural receptor patterns have the potential to integrate multiple behavioral and physiological traits simultaneously, including self-regulation of glucocorticoid secretion through negative feedback processes. In the present work, we quantified the expression of GR and MR mRNA throughout the brain of a female great tit (Parus major), creating a distribution map encompassing 48 regions. This map, the first of its kind for P. major, demonstrated a widespread but not ubiquitous distribution of both receptor types. In the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) and the hippocampus (HP)—the two brain regions that we sampled from a total of 25 birds, we found high GR mRNA expression in the former and, unexpectedly, low MR mRNA in the latter. We examined the covariation of MR and GR levels in these two regions and found a strong, positive relationship between MR in the PVN and MR in the HP and a similar trend for GR across these two regions. This correlation supports the idea that hormone pleiotropy may constrain an individual’s behavioral and physiological phenotype. In the female song system, we found moderate GR in hyperstriatum ventrale, pars caudalis (HVC), and moderate MR in robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA). Understanding intra- and interspecific patterns of glucocorticoid receptor expression can inform us about the behavioral processes (e.g. song learning) that may be sensitive to stress and stimulate future hypotheses concerning the relationships between receptor expression, circulating hormone concentrations and performance traits under selection, including behavior.

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<![CDATA[Susceptibility and Antibody Response of the Laboratory Model Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) to West Nile Virus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db1aab0ee8fa60bcde4f

Since the introduction of West Nile virus (WNV) into North America in 1999 a number of passerine bird species have been found to play a role in the amplification of the virus. Arbovirus surveillance, observational studies and experimental studies have implicated passerine birds (songbirds, e.g., crows, American robins, house sparrows, and house finches) as significant reservoirs of WNV in North America, yet we lack a tractable passerine animal model for controlled studies of the virus. The zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) serves as a model system across a diversity of fields, and here we develop the zebra finch a songbird model for WNV. Like many natural hosts of WNV, we found that zebra finches developed sufficient viremia to serve as a competent host, yet in general resisted mortality from infection. In the Australian zebra finch (AZF) T. g. castanotis, we detected WNV in the majority of sampled tissues by 4 days post injection (dpi). However, WNV was not detected in tissues of sacrificed birds at 14 dpi, shortly after the development of detectable anti-WNV antibodies in the majority of birds indicating successful viral clearance. We compared susceptibility between the two zebra finch subspecies AZF and Timor zebra finch (TZF) T. g. guttata. Compared to AZF, WNV RNA was detected in a larger proportion of challenged TZF and molecular detection of virus in the serum of TZF was significantly higher than in AZF. Given the observed moderate host competence and disease susceptibility, we suggest that zebra finches are appropriate as models for the study of WNV and although underutilized in this respect, may be ideal models for the study of the many diseases carried and transmitted by songbirds.

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<![CDATA[Comparative Cytogenetics between Two Important Songbird, Models: The Zebra Finch and the Canary]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db53ab0ee8fa60bdca07

Songbird species (order Passeriformes, suborder Oscines) are important models in various experimental fields spanning behavioural genomics to neurobiology. Although the genomes of some songbird species were sequenced recently, the chromosomal organization of these species is mostly unknown. Here we focused on the two most studied songbird species in neuroscience, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) and the canary (Serinus canaria). In order to clarify these issues and also to integrate chromosome data with their assembled genomes, we used classical and molecular cytogenetics in both zebra finch and canary to define their chromosomal homology, localization of heterochromatic blocks and distribution of rDNA clusters. We confirmed the same diploid number (2n = 80) in both species, as previously reported. FISH experiments confirmed the occurrence of multiple paracentric and pericentric inversions previously found in other species of Passeriformes, providing a cytogenetic signature for this order, and corroborating data from in silico analyses. Additionally, compared to other Passeriformes, we detected differences in the zebra finch karyotype concerning the morphology of some chromosomes, in the distribution of 5S rDNA clusters, and an inversion in chromosome 1.

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<![CDATA[Three IgH isotypes, IgM, IgA and IgY are expressed in Gentoo penguin and zebra finch]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db52ab0ee8fa60bdc610

Previous studies on a limited number of birds suggested that the IgD-encoding gene was absent in birds. However, one of our recent studies showed that the gene was definitely expressed in the ostrich and emu. Interestingly, we also identified subclass diversification of IgM and IgY in these two birds. To better understand immunoglobulin genes in birds, in this study, we analyzed the immunoglobulin heavy chain genes in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) and Gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua), belonging respectively to the order Passeriformes, the most successful bird order in terms of species diversity and numbers, and Sphenisciformes, a relatively primitive avian order. Similar to the results obtained in chickens and ducks, only three genes encoding immunoglobulin heavy chain isotypes, IgM, IgA and IgY, were identified in both species. Besides, we detected a transcript encoding a short membrane-bound IgA lacking the last two CH exons in the Gentoo penguin. We did not find any evidence supporting the presence of IgD gene or subclass diversification of IgM/IgY in penguin or zebra finch. The obtained data in our study provide more insights into the immunoglobulin heavy chain genes in birds and may help to better understand the evolution of immunoglobulin genes in tetrapods.

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<![CDATA[Pairing Behavior of the Monogamous King Quail, Coturnix chinensis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daacab0ee8fa60ba9a5a

Animals with socially monogamous mating systems are valuable for discovering proximate mechanisms of prosocial behavior and close social relationships. Especially powerful are comparisons between related species that differ in monogamous tendency. Birds are the most socially monogamous vertebrates. Thus far most research on mechanisms of pairing has used zebra finches, which do not have a relative with a different mating system, however. The goal of the experiments reported here was to develop a new comparative avian system by studying the pairing behavior of a reportedly strongly monogamous quail, the king quail (Coturnix chinensis), a species in the same clade as the less monogamous Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica), the subject of much prior research. In Experiment 1 male-female pairs of king quail housed together were initially avoidant or aggressive but most rapidly progressed to allopreening and huddling. A separation-reunion paradigm reliably elicited both of these behaviors in males that had cohabited for one week. In Experiment 2 the allopreening and huddling behavior of males in cohabiting pairs was highly selective, and a majority of the males were aggressive toward a familiar female that was not the cohabitation partner. In Experiment 3 males were separated from their female cohabitation partners for 9–10 weeks and then given two-choice tests. All but one male spent more time near an unfamiliar female, which may have reflected aggression and shows recognition of and memory for the past pairing experience. Thus king quail show robust, selective and easy to measure pairing behavior that can be reliably elicited with simple separation-reunion testing procedures. Copulation is rarely seen during tests. The behavior of king quail is a striking contrast to that of Japanese quail, providing a new comparative system for discovering mechanisms of behavior related to close social relationships and monogamy.

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<![CDATA[Multiple Visual Field Representations in the Visual Wulst of a Laterally Eyed Bird, the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daa3ab0ee8fa60ba69db

The visual wulst is the telencephalic target of the avian thalamofugal visual system. It contains several retinotopically organised representations of the contralateral visual field. We used optical imaging of intrinsic signals, electrophysiological recordings, and retrograde tracing with two fluorescent tracers to evaluate properties of these representations in the zebra finch, a songbird with laterally placed eyes. Our experiments revealed that there is some variability of the neuronal maps between individuals and also concerning the number of detectable maps. It was nonetheless possible to identify three different maps, a posterolateral, a posteromedial, and an anterior one, which were quite constant in their relation to each other. The posterolateral map was in contrast to the two others constantly visible in each successful experiment. The topography of the two other maps was mirrored against that map. Electrophysiological recordings in the anterior and the posterolateral map revealed that all units responded to flashes and to moving bars. Mean directional preferences as well as latencies were different between neurons of the two maps. Tracing experiments confirmed previous reports on the thalamo-wulst connections and showed that the anterior and the posterolateral map receive projections from separate clusters within the thalamic nuclei. Maps are connected to each other by wulst intrinsic projections. Our experiments confirm that the avian visual wulst contains several separate retinotopic maps with both different physiological properties and different thalamo-wulst afferents. This confirms that the functional organization of the visual wulst is very similar to its mammalian equivalent, the visual cortex.

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<![CDATA[Colour Cues That Are Not Directly Attached to the Body of Males Do Not Influence the Mate Choice of Zebra Finches]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da59ab0ee8fa60b8f7f9

Mate choice decisions of female zebra finches are generally thought to rely on the assessment of male quality, which includes the specific ornamentation of males. A commonly used paradigm to experimentally manipulate a male’s attractiveness is to add a coloured leg ring to the bird. Some studies have shown that female zebra finches prefer or alter their investment in males that have an additional red leg ring compared with males with green leg rings. Whether the coloured artificial ornaments need to be attached to the male’s body or whether environmental colouration could have a similar effect on male attractiveness remains unclear. Here, I investigated this novel context to determine whether female choice between males is affected by environmental colour cues that are not directly attached to the male’s body in four experiments involving 220 zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata).

A first experiment revealed that females chose males with red colour cues in the environmental background over males with green cues in the background. Based on this finding, I conducted follow-up experiments to obtain a deeper understanding of how environmental colour cues affect mate choice. Therefore, I examined whether female choice behaviour or male behaviour was altered in two additional experiments. Both experiments failed to show any effects of environmental colour cues on female choice or on male behaviour. Therefore, I replicated the initial experiment in a fourth experiment. Again replication failed; thus, the initial results indicating that environmental colouration affects mate choice behaviour of female zebra finches were not supported by the three subsequent experiments; thus, the outcome of the first experiment seems to be a false positive. Taking my results together, I found no robust support for the idea that environmental colour cues that are not directly attached to the body of male zebra finches affect female mate choice decisions.

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<![CDATA[Diurnal and Reproductive Stage-Dependent Variation of Parental Behaviour in Captive Zebra Finches]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db48ab0ee8fa60bd93bf

Parental care plays a key role in ontogeny, life-history trade-offs, sexual selection and intra-familial conflict. Studies focusing on understanding causes and consequences of variation in parental effort need to quantify parental behaviour accurately. The applied methods are, however, diverse even for a given species and type of parental effort, and rarely validated for accuracy. Here we focus on variability of parental behaviour from a methodological perspective to investigate the effect of different samplings on various estimates of parental effort. We used nest box cameras in a captive breeding population of zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata, a widely used model system of sexual selection, intra-familial dynamics and parental care. We investigated diurnal and reproductive stage-dependent variation in parental effort (including incubation, brooding, nest attendance and number of feedings) based on 12h and 3h continuous video-recordings taken at various reproductive stages. We then investigated whether shorter (1h) sampling periods provided comparable estimates of overall parental effort and division of labour to those of longer (3h) sampling periods. Our study confirmed female-biased division of labour during incubation, and showed that the difference between female and male effort diminishes with advancing reproductive stage. We found individually consistent parental behaviours within given days of incubation and nestling provisioning. Furthermore, parental behaviour was consistent over the different stages of incubation, however, only female brooding was consistent over nestling provisioning. Parental effort during incubation did not predict parental effort during nestling provisioning. Our analyses revealed that 1h sampling may be influenced heavily by stochastic and diurnal variation. We suggest using a single longer sampling period (3h) may provide a consistent and accurate estimate for overall parental effort during incubation in zebra finches. Due to the large within-individual variation, we suggest repeated longer sampling over the reproductive stage may be necessary for accurate estimates of parental effort post-hatching.

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<![CDATA[Sex Differences in Brain Thyroid Hormone Levels during Early Post-Hatching Development in Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9d1ab0ee8fa60b645ff

Thyroid hormones are closely linked to the hatching process in precocial birds. Previously, we showed that thyroid hormones in brain had a strong impact on filial imprinting, an early learning behavior in newly hatched chicks; brain 3,5,3′-triiodothyronine (T3) peaks around hatching and imprinting training induces additional T3 release, thus, extending the sensitive period for imprinting and enabling subsequent other learning. On the other hand, blood thyroid hormone levels have been reported to increase gradually after hatching in altricial species, but it remains unknown how the brain thyroid hormone levels change during post-hatching development of altricial birds. Here, we determined the changes in serum and brain thyroid hormone levels of a passerine songbird species, the zebra finch using radioimmunoassay. In the serum, we found a gradual increase in thyroid hormone levels during post-hatching development, as well as differences between male and female finches. In the brain, there was clear surge in the hormone levels during development in males and females coinciding with the time of fledging, but the onset of the surge of thyroxine (T4) in males preceded that of females, whereas the onset of the surge of T3 in males succeeded that of females. These findings provide a basis for understanding the functions of thyroid hormones during early development and learning in altricial birds.

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<![CDATA[Female Zebra Finches Smell Their Eggs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db2fab0ee8fa60bd1e90

Parental investment in unrelated offspring seems maladaptive from an evolutionary perspective, due to the costs of energy and resources that cannot be invested in related offspring at the same time. Therefore selection should favour mechanisms to discriminate between own and foreign offspring. In birds, much emphasis has been placed on understanding the visual mechanisms underlying egg recognition. However, olfactory egg recognition has almost been completely ignored. Here, we investigated whether female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) are able to discriminate between their own and a conspecific egg based on olfactory cues alone. Zebra finches are colonial—breeding songbirds. Eggs are monomorphic, i.e. without any spotting pattern, and intraspecific brood parasitism frequently occurs. In a binary choice experiment, female zebra finches were given the choice between the scent of their own and a conspecific egg. After the onset of incubation, females chose randomly and showed no sign of discrimination. However, shortly before hatching, females preferred significantly the odour of their own egg. The finding that females are capable to smell their own egg may inspire more research on the potential of olfaction involved in egg recognition, especially in cases where visual cues might be limited.

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<![CDATA[Blood Mercury Levels of Zebra Finches Are Heritable: Implications for the Evolution of Mercury Resistance]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dad2ab0ee8fa60bb6c37

Mercury is a ubiquitous metal contaminant that negatively impacts reproduction of wildlife and has many other sub-lethal effects. Songbirds are sensitive bioindicators of mercury toxicity and may suffer population declines as a result of mercury pollution. Current predictions of mercury accumulation and biomagnification often overlook possible genetic variation in mercury uptake and elimination within species and the potential for evolution in affected populations. We conducted a study of dietary mercury exposure in a model songbird species, maintaining a breeding population of zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) on standardized diets ranging from 0.0–2.4 μg/g methylmercury. We applied a quantitative genetics approach to examine patterns of variation and heritability of mercury accumulation within dietary treatments using a method of mixed effects modeling known as the 'animal model'. Significant variation in blood mercury accumulation existed within each treatment for birds exposed at the same dietary level; moreover, this variation was highly repeatable for individuals. We observed substantial genetic variation in blood mercury accumulation for birds exposed at intermediate dietary concentrations. Taken together, this is evidence that genetic variation for factors affecting blood mercury accumulation could be acted on by selection. If similar heritability for mercury accumulation exists in wild populations, selection could result in genetic differentiation for populations in contaminated locations, with possible consequences for mercury biomagnification in food webs.

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