Zebrafish tbx5 paralogs demonstrate independent essential requirements in cardiac and pectoral fin development


Correspondence to: Deborah M. Garrity, Colorado State University, Department of Biology, 1878 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523. E-mail: deborah.garrity@colostate.edu


Background: T-box genes constitute a large family of transcriptional regulators involved in developmental patterning. Homozygous mutation of tbx5 leads to embryonic lethal cardiac phenotypes and forelimb malformations in vertebrate models. Haploinsufficiency of tbx5 results in Holt-Oram syndrome, a human congenital disease characterized by cardiac and forelimb defects. Homozygous mutation of zebrafish tbx5a leads to lethal defects in cardiac looping morphogenesis, blocks pectoral fin initiation, and impairs outgrowth. Recently, a second zebrafish tbx5 gene was described, termed tbx5b. Results: Our phylogenetic analyses confirm tbx5b as a paralog that likely arose in the teleost-specific whole genome duplication ∼270 MYA. Using morpholino depletion studies, we find that tbx5b is required in the heart for embryonic survival, and influences the timing and morphogenesis of pectoral fin development. Because tbx5a hypomorphic mutations are embryonic lethal, tbx5a and tbx5b functions in the heart must not be completely redundant. Consistent with this hypothesis, simultaneous depletion of both tbx5 paralogs did not lead to more severe phenotypes, and injection of wild-type mRNA from one tbx5 paralog was not sufficient to cross-rescue phenotypes of the paralogous gene. Conclusions: Collectively, these data indicate that, despite similar spatio-temporal expression patterns, tbx5a and tbx5b have independent functions in heart and fin development. Developmental Dynamics 242:475–492, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.