Differential expression of neuroligin genes in the nervous system of zebrafish



The establishment and maturation of appropriate synaptic connections is crucial in the development of neuronal circuits. Cellular adhesion is believed to play a central role in this process. Neuroligins are neuronal cell adhesion molecules that are hypothesized to act in the initial formation and maturation of synaptic connections. In order to establish the zebrafish as a model to investigate the in vivo role of Neuroligin proteins in nervous system development, we identified the zebrafish orthologs of neuroligin family members and characterized their expression. Zebrafish possess seven neuroligin genes. Synteny analysis and sequence comparisons show that NLGN2, NLGN3, and NLGN4Xare duplicated in zebrafish, but NLGN1 has a single zebrafish ortholog. All seven zebrafish neuroligins are expressed in complex patterns in the developing nervous system and in the adult brain. The spatial and temporal expression patterns of these genes suggest that they occupy a role in nervous system development and maintenance. Developmental Dynamics 239:703–714, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.