Expertise: Neurobiology, Sleep sciences, Molecular Genetics, Developmental Biology, Gene Silencing/Epigenetics

Methodology: Synapse Imaging (Two photon microscopy, Array Tomography), Calcium Imaging (Light Sheet Microscopy/SPIM, Light Field Microscopy), Optogenetics, CLARITY, Tol2 transgenesis, TALENs, CRISPR/Cas9, Video tracking and behavior computation.

Academic Appointments

Administrative Appointments

  • Associate Dean for Research, School of Medicine (2023 - Present)

2023-24 Courses

Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • Sleep deficiency as a driver of cellular stress and damage in neurological disorders. Sleep medicine reviews Coulson, R. L., Mourrain, P., Wang, G. X. 2022; 63: 101616


    Neurological disorders encompass an extremely broad range of conditions, including those that present early in development and those that progress slowly or manifest with advanced age. Although these disorders have distinct underlying etiologies, the activation of shared pathways, e.g., integrated stress response (ISR) and the development of shared phenotypes (sleep deficits) may offer clues toward understanding some of the mechanistic underpinnings of neurologic dysfunction. While it is incontrovertibly complex, the relationship between sleep and persistent stress in the brain has broad implications in understanding neurological disorders from development to degeneration. The convergent nature of the ISR could be a common thread linking genetically distinct neurological disorders through the dysregulation of a core cellular homeostasis pathway.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.smrv.2022.101616

    View details for PubMedID 35381445

  • Hyperexcitable arousal circuits drive sleep instability during aging. Science (New York, N.Y.) Li, S. B., Damonte, V. M., Chen, C., Wang, G. X., Kebschull, J. M., Yamaguchi, H., Bian, W. J., Purmann, C., Pattni, R., Urban, A. E., Mourrain, P., Kauer, J. A., Scherrer, G., de Lecea, L. 2022; 375 (6583): eabh3021


    Sleep quality declines with age; however, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. We found that hyperexcitable hypocretin/orexin (Hcrt/OX) neurons drive sleep fragmentation during aging. In aged mice, Hcrt neurons exhibited more frequent neuronal activity epochs driving wake bouts, and optogenetic activation of Hcrt neurons elicited more prolonged wakefulness. Aged Hcrt neurons showed hyperexcitability with lower KCNQ2 expression and impaired M-current, mediated by KCNQ2/3 channels. Single-nucleus RNA-sequencing revealed adaptive changes to Hcrt neuron loss in the aging brain. Disruption of Kcnq2/3 genes in Hcrt neurons of young mice destabilized sleep, mimicking aging-associated sleep fragmentation, whereas the KCNQ-selective activator flupirtine hyperpolarized Hcrt neurons and rejuvenated sleep architecture in aged mice. Our findings demonstrate a mechanism underlying sleep instability during aging and a strategy to improve sleep continuity.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.abh3021

    View details for PubMedID 35201886

  • Non-REM and REM/paradoxical sleep dynamics across phylogeny. Current opinion in neurobiology Jaggard, J. B., Wang, G. X., Mourrain, P. 2021; 71: 44-51


    All animals carefully studied sleep, suggesting that sleep as a behavioral state exists in all animal life. Such evolutionary maintenance of an otherwise vulnerable period of environmental detachment suggests that sleep must be integral in fundamental biological needs. Despite over a century of research, the knowledge of what sleep does at the tissue, cellular or molecular levels remain cursory. Currently, sleep is defined based on behavioral criteria and physiological measures rather than at the cellular or molecular level. Physiologically, sleep has been described as two main states, non-rapid eye moment (NREM) and REM/paradoxical sleep (PS), which are defined in the neocortex by synchronous oscillations and paradoxical wake-like activity, respectively. For decades, these two sleep states were believed to be defining characteristics of only mammalian and avian sleep. Recent work has revealed slow oscillation, silencing, and paradoxical/REM-like activities in reptiles, fish, flies, worms, and cephalopods suggesting that these sleep dynamics and associated physiological states may have emerged early in animal evolution. Here, we discuss these recent developments supporting the conservation of neural dynamics (silencing, oscillation, paradoxical activity) of sleep states across phylogeny.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.conb.2021.08.004

    View details for PubMedID 34583217

  • William C. Dement (1928-2020). Science (New York, N.Y.) Pelayo, R. n., Mourrain, P. n. 2020; 369 (6503): 512

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.abd6855

    View details for PubMedID 32732414

  • Genetic deciphering of the antagonistic activities of the melanin-concentrating hormone and melanocortin pathways in skin pigmentation. PLoS genetics Madelaine, R. n., Ngo, K. J., Skariah, G. n., Mourrain, P. n. 2020; 16 (12): e1009244


    The genetic origin of human skin pigmentation remains an open question in biology. Several skin disorders and diseases originate from mutations in conserved pigmentation genes, including albinism, vitiligo, and melanoma. Teleosts possess the capacity to modify their pigmentation to adapt to their environmental background to avoid predators. This background adaptation occurs through melanosome aggregation (white background) or dispersion (black background) in melanocytes. These mechanisms are largely regulated by melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) and α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH), two hypothalamic neuropeptides also involved in mammalian skin pigmentation. Despite evidence that the exogenous application of MCH peptides induces melanosome aggregation, it is not known if the MCH system is physiologically responsible for background adaptation. In zebrafish, we identify that MCH neurons target the pituitary gland-blood vessel portal and that endogenous MCH peptide expression regulates melanin concentration for background adaptation. We demonstrate that this effect is mediated by MCH receptor 2 (Mchr2) but not Mchr1a/b. mchr2 knock-out fish cannot adapt to a white background, providing the first genetic demonstration that MCH signaling is physiologically required to control skin pigmentation. mchr2 phenotype can be rescued in adult fish by knocking-out pomc, the gene coding for the precursor of α-MSH, demonstrating the relevance of the antagonistic activity between MCH and α-MSH in the control of melanosome organization. Interestingly, MCH receptor is also expressed in human melanocytes, thus a similar antagonistic activity regulating skin pigmentation may be conserved during evolution, and the dysregulation of these pathways is significant to our understanding of human skin disorders and cancers.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1009244

    View details for PubMedID 33301440

  • COMPARATIVE FUNCTIONAL GENOMICS ANALYSES OF THE 16P11.2 DELETION AND DUPLICATION CNVS IN A HUMAN IPSC-TO-INDUCED NEURON MODEL Zhang, X., Thomas, W., Leung, L., Zhou, B., Muench, K., Plastini, M., Pattni, R., Ho, S., Ho, M., Huang, Y., Hallmayer, J., Mourrain, P., Palmer, T., Urban, A. ELSEVIER. 2019: S66
  • Sleep: DNA Repair Function for Better Neuronal Aging? Current biology : CB Mourrain, P., Wang, G. X. 2019; 29 (12): R585–R588


    A novel potential role of sleep is neuronal DNA repair. Live imaging of chromosome dynamics in zebrafish neurons has uncovered how sleep can repair DNA breaks accumulated during wake to maintain genome integrity and likely slow down neuronal aging.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2019.05.018

    View details for PubMedID 31211981

  • Neuronal Dynamics Regulating Brain and Behavioral State Transitions CELL Andalman, A. S., Burns, V. M., Lovett-Barron, M., Broxton, M., Poole, B., Yang, S. J., Grosenick, L., Lerner, T. N., Chen, R., Benster, T., Mourrain, P., Levoy, M., Rajan, K., Deisseroth, K. 2019; 177 (4): 970-+
  • Neural signatures of sleep in zebrafish. Nature Leung, L. C., Wang, G. X., Madelaine, R. n., Skariah, G. n., Kawakami, K. n., Deisseroth, K. n., Urban, A. E., Mourrain, P. n. 2019; 571 (7764): 198–204


    Slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement (or paradoxical) sleep have been found in mammals, birds and lizards, but it is unclear whether these neuronal signatures are found in non-amniotic vertebrates. Here we develop non-invasive fluorescence-based polysomnography for zebrafish, and show-using unbiased, brain-wide activity recording coupled with assessment of eye movement, muscle dynamics and heart rate-that there are at least two major sleep signatures in zebrafish. These signatures, which we term slow bursting sleep and propagating wave sleep, share commonalities with those of slow-wave sleep and paradoxical or rapid eye movement sleep, respectively. Further, we find that melanin-concentrating hormone signalling (which is involved in mammalian sleep) also regulates propagating wave sleep signatures and the overall amount of sleep in zebrafish, probably via activation of ependymal cells. These observations suggest that common neural signatures of sleep may have emerged in the vertebrate brain over 450 million years ago.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-019-1336-7

    View details for PubMedID 31292557

  • Sleep: Short Sleepers Should Keep Count of Their Hypocretin Neurons CURRENT BIOLOGY Leung, L. C., Mourrain, P. 2018; 28 (9): R558–R560


    Sleep durations vary greatly across animals from 2 to 20 hours with no clear explanation. A small Mexican cavefish reveals how the brain can adapt to increase its wake-stabilizing hypocretin circuit and dramatically reduce sleep, likely to allow adaptive foraging.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2018.03.006

    View details for Web of Science ID 000432442300012

    View details for PubMedID 29738730

  • A screen for deeply conserved non-coding GWAS SNPs uncovers a MIR-9-2 functional mutation associated to retinal vasculature defects in human Nucleic Acids Research Madelaine, R., Notwell, J. H., Skariah, G., Halluin, C., Chen, C. C., Bejerano, G., Mourrain, P. 2018; 1


    Thousands of human disease-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) lie in the non-coding genome, but only a handful have been demonstrated to affect gene expression and human biology. We computationally identified risk-associated SNPs in deeply conserved non-exonic elements (CNEs) potentially contributing to 45 human diseases. We further demonstrated that human CNE1/rs17421627 associated with retinal vasculature defects showed transcriptional activity in the zebrafish retina, while introducing the risk-associated allele completely abolished CNE1 enhancer activity. Furthermore, deletion of CNE1 led to retinal vasculature defects and to a specific downregulation of microRNA-9, rather than MEF2C as predicted by the original genome-wide association studies. Consistent with these results, miR-9 depletion affects retinal vasculature formation, demonstrating MIR-9-2 as a critical gene underpinning the associated trait. Importantly, we validated that other CNEs act as transcriptional enhancers that can be disrupted by conserved non-coding SNPs. This study uncovers disease-associated non-coding mutations that are deeply conserved, providing a path for in vivo testing to reveal their cis-regulated genes and biological roles.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/nar/gky166

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5909433

  • The hypothalamic NPVF circuit modulates ventral raphe activity during nociception SCIENTIFIC REPORTS Madelaine, R., Lovett-Barron, M., Halluin, C., Andalman, A. S., Liang, J., Skariah, G. M., Leung, L. C., Burns, V. M., Mourrain, P. 2017; 7


    RFamide neuropeptide VF (NPVF) is expressed by neurons in the hypothalamus and has been implicated in nociception, but the circuit mechanisms remain unexplored. Here, we studied the structural and functional connections from NPVF neurons to downstream targets in the context of nociception, using novel transgenic lines, optogenetics, and calcium imaging in behaving larval zebrafish. We found a specific projection from NPVF neurons to serotonergic neurons in the ventral raphe nucleus (vRN). We showed NPVF neurons and vRN are suppressed and excited by noxious stimuli, respectively. We combined optogenetics with calcium imaging and pharmacology to demonstrate that stimulation of NPVF cells suppresses neuronal activity in vRN. During noxious stimuli, serotonergic neurons activation was due to a suppression of an inhibitory NPVF-ventral raphe peptidergic projection. This study reveals a novel NPVF-vRN functional circuit modulated by noxious stimuli in vertebrates.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/srep41528

    View details for Web of Science ID 000392959300001

    View details for PubMedID 28139691

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5282529

  • MicroRNA-9 Couples Brain Neurogenesis and Angiogenesis. Cell reports Madelaine, R. n., Sloan, S. A., Huber, N. n., Notwell, J. H., Leung, L. C., Skariah, G. n., Halluin, C. n., Paşca, S. P., Bejerano, G. n., Krasnow, M. A., Barres, B. A., Mourrain, P. n. 2017; 20 (7): 1533–42


    In the developing brain, neurons expressing VEGF-A and blood vessels grow in close apposition, but many of the molecular pathways regulating neuronal VEGF-A and neurovascular system development remain to be deciphered. Here, we show that miR-9 links neurogenesis and angiogenesis through the formation of neurons expressing VEGF-A. We found that miR-9 directly targets the transcription factors TLX and ONECUTs to regulate VEGF-A expression. miR-9 inhibition leads to increased TLX and ONECUT expression, resulting in VEGF-A overexpression. This untimely increase of neuronal VEGF-A signal leads to the thickening of blood vessels at the expense of the normal formation of the neurovascular network in the brain and retina. Thus, this conserved transcriptional cascade is critical for proper brain development in vertebrates. Because of this dual role on neural stem cell proliferation and angiogenesis, miR-9 and its downstream targets are promising factors for cellular regenerative therapy following stroke and for brain tumor treatment.

    View details for PubMedID 28813666

  • Endogenous retinal neural stem cell reprogramming for neuronal regeneration. Neural regeneration research Madelaine, R. n., Mourrain, P. n. 2017; 12 (11): 1765–67


    In humans, optic nerve injuries and associated neurodegenerative diseases are often followed by permanent vision loss. Consequently, an important challenge is to develop safe and effective methods to replace retinal neurons and thereby restore neuronal functions and vision. Identifying cellular and molecular mechanisms allowing to replace damaged neurons is a major goal for basic and translational research in regenerative medicine. Contrary to mammals, the zebrafish has the capacity to fully regenerate entire parts of the nervous system, including retina. This regenerative process depends on endogenous retinal neural stem cells, the Müller glial cells. Following injury, zebrafish Müller cells go back into cell cycle to proliferate and generate new neurons, while mammalian Müller cells undergo reactive gliosis. Recently, transcription factors and microRNAs have been identified to control the formation of new neurons derived from zebrafish and mammalian Müller cells, indicating that cellular reprogramming can be an efficient strategy to regenerate human retinal neurons. Here we discuss recent insights into the use of endogenous neural stem cell reprogramming for neuronal regeneration, differences between zebrafish and mammalian Müller cells, and the need to pursue the identification and characterization of new molecular factors with an instructive and potent function in order to develop theurapeutic strategies for eye diseases.

    View details for PubMedID 29239312

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5745820

  • Blimp1 induces transient metastatic heterogeneity in pancreatic cancer. Cancer discovery Chiou, S. H., Risca, V. I., Wang, G. X., Yang, D. n., Grüner, B. M., Kathiria, A. S., Ma, R. K., Vaka, D. n., Chu, P. n., Kozak, M. n., Castellini, L. n., Graves, E. E., Kim, G. E., Mourrain, P. n., Koong, A. C., Giaccia, A. J., Winslow, M. M. 2017


    Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most metastatic and deadly cancers. Despite the clinical significance of metastatic spread, our understanding of molecular mechanisms that drive PDAC metastatic ability remains limited. Using a novel genetically engineered mouse model of human PDAC, we uncover a transient subpopulation of cancer cells with exceptionally high metastatic ability. Global gene expression profiling and functional analyses uncovered the transcription factor Blimp1 as a key driver of PDAC metastasis. The highly metastatic PDAC subpopulation is enriched for hypoxia-induced genes and hypoxia-mediated induction of Blimp1 contributes to the regulation of a subset of hypoxia-associated gene expression programs. These findings support a model in which up-regulation of Blimp1 links microenvironmental cues to a metastatic stem cell character.

    View details for PubMedID 28790031

  • Sub-synaptic, multiplexed analysis of proteins reveals Fragile X related protein 2 is mislocalized in Fmr1 KO synapses ELIFE Wang, G. X., Smith, S. J., Mourrain, P. 2016; 5


    The distribution of proteins within sub-synaptic compartments is an essential aspect of their neurological function. Current methodologies, such as electron microscopy (EM) and super-resolution imaging techniques, can provide the precise localization of proteins, but are often limited to a small number of one-time observations with narrow spatial and molecular coverage. The diversity of synaptic proteins and synapse types demands synapse analysis on a scale that is prohibitive with current methods. Here, we demonstrate SubSynMAP, a fast, multiplexed sub-synaptic protein analysis method using wide-field data from deconvolution array tomography (ATD). SubSynMAP generates probability distributions for that reveal the functional range of proteins within the averaged synapse of a particular class. This enables the differentiation of closely juxtaposed proteins. Using this method, we analyzed 15 synaptic proteins in normal and Fragile X mental retardation syndrome (FXS) model mouse cortex, and revealed disease-specific modifications of sub-synaptic protein distributions across synapse classes and cortical layers.

    View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.20560

    View details for Web of Science ID 000388096400001

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5098911

  • Sleep-Dependent Structural Synaptic Plasticity of Inhibitory Synapses in the Dendrites of Hypocretin/Orexin Neurons. Molecular neurobiology Elbaz, I., Zada, D., Tovin, A., Braun, T., Lerer-Goldshtein, T., Wang, G., Mourrain, P., Appelbaum, L. 2016: -?


    Sleep is tightly regulated by the circadian clock and homeostatic mechanisms. Although the sleep/wake cycle is known to be associated with structural and physiological synaptic changes that benefit the brain, the function of sleep is still debated. The hypothalamic hypocretin/orexin (Hcrt) neurons regulate various functions including feeding, reward, sleep, and wake. Continuous imaging of single neuronal circuits in live animals is vital to understanding the role of sleep in regulating synaptic dynamics, and the transparency of the zebrafish model enables time-lapse imaging of single synapses during both day and night. Here, we use the gephyrin (Gphnb) protein, a central inhibitory synapse organizer, as a fluorescent post-synaptic marker of inhibitory synapses. Double labeling showed that Gphnb-tagRFP and collybistin-EGFP clusters co-localized in dendritic inhibitory synapses. Using a transgenic hcrt:Gphnb-EGFP zebrafish, we showed that the number of inhibitory synapses in the dendrites of Hcrt neurons was increased during development. To determine the effect of sleep on the inhibitory synapses, we performed two-photon live imaging of Gphnb-EGFP in Hcrt neurons during day and night, under light/dark and constant light and dark conditions, and following sleep deprivation (SD). We found that synapse number increased during the night under light/dark conditions but that these changes were eliminated under constant light or dark conditions. SD reduced synapse number during the night, and the number increased during post-deprivation daytime sleep rebound. These results suggest that rhythmic structural plasticity of inhibitory synapses in Hcrt dendrites is independent of the circadian clock and is modulated by consolidated wake and sleep.

    View details for PubMedID 27734337

  • DRUG DISCOVERY Zebrafish uncover novel antipsychotics NATURE CHEMICAL BIOLOGY Leung, L. C., Mourrain, P. 2016; 12 (7): 468-469

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nchembio.2114

    View details for Web of Science ID 000378087500001

    View details for PubMedID 27315534

  • A Neural Basis for Control of Cichlid Female Reproductive Behavior by Prostaglandin F-2 alpha CURRENT BIOLOGY Juntti, S. A., Hilliard, A. T., Kent, K. R., Kumar, A., Andrew Nguyen, A., Jimenez, M. A., Loveland, J. L., Mourrain, P., Fernald, R. D. 2016; 26 (7): 943-949


    In most species, females time reproduction to coincide with fertility. Thus, identifying factors that signal fertility to the brain can provide access to neural circuits that control sexual behaviors. In vertebrates, levels of key signaling molecules rise at the time of fertility to prime the brain for reproductive behavior [1-11], but how and where they regulate neural circuits is not known [12, 13]. Specifically, 17α,20β-dihydroxyprogesterone (DHP) and prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α) levels rise in teleost fish around the time of ovulation [10, 14, 15]. In an African cichlid fish, Astatotilapia burtoni, fertile females select a mate and perform a stereotyped spawning routine, offering quantifiable behavioral outputs of neural circuits. We show that, within minutes, PGF2α injection activates a naturalistic pattern of sexual behavior in female A. burtoni. We also identify cells in the brain that transduce the prostaglandin signal to mate and show that the gonadal steroid DHP modulates mRNA levels of the putative receptor for PGF2α (Ptgfr). We use CRISPR/Cas9 to generate the first targeted gene mutation in A. burtoni and show that Ptgfr is necessary for the initiation of sexual behavior, uncoupling sexual behavior from reproductive status. Our findings are consistent with a model in which PGF2α communicates fertility status via Ptgfr to circuits in the brain that drive female sexual behavior. Our targeted genome modification in a cichlid fish shows that dissection of gene function can reveal basic control mechanisms for behaviors in this large family of species with diverse and fascinating social systems [16, 17].

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2016.01.067

    View details for Web of Science ID 000373273600030

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4821738

  • What Lies Sleeping The Scientist Philippe, M. 2016; 30 (3): 22-23
  • Fmr1 KO and Fenobam Treatment Differentially Impact Distinct Synapse Populations of Mouse Neocortex NEURON Wang, G. X., Smith, S. J., Mourrain, P. 2014; 84 (6): 1273-1286


    Cognitive deficits in fragile X syndrome (FXS) are attributed to molecular abnormalities of the brain's vast and heterogeneous synapse populations. Unfortunately, the density of synapses coupled with their molecular heterogeneity presents formidable challenges in understanding the specific contribution of synapse changes in FXS. We demonstrate powerful new methods for the large-scale molecular analysis of individual synapses that allow quantification of numerous specific changes in synapse populations present in the cortex of a mouse model of FXS. Analysis of nearly a million individual synapses reveals distinct, quantitative changes in synaptic proteins distributed across over 6,000 pairwise metrics. Some, but not all, of these synaptic alterations are reversed by treatment with the candidate therapeutic fenobam, an mGluR5 antagonist. These patterns of widespread, but diverse synaptic protein changes in response to global perturbation suggest that FXS and its treatment must be understood as a networked system at the synapse level.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.11.016

    View details for Web of Science ID 000346574500018

    View details for PubMedID 25521380

  • Prolonged, brain-wide expression of nuclear-localized GCaMP3 for functional circuit mapping FRONTIERS IN NEURAL CIRCUITS Kim, C. K., Miri, A., Leung, L. C., Berndt, A., Mourrain, P., Tank, D. W., Burdine, R. D. 2014; 8


    Larval zebrafish offer the potential for large-scale optical imaging of neural activity throughout the central nervous system; however, several barriers challenge their utility. First, ~panneuronal probe expression has to date only been demonstrated at early larval stages up to 7 days post-fertilization (dpf), precluding imaging at later time points when circuits are more mature. Second, nuclear exclusion of genetically-encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) limits the resolution of functional fluorescence signals collected during imaging. Here, we report the creation of transgenic zebrafish strains exhibiting robust, nuclearly targeted expression of GCaMP3 across the brain up to at least 14 dpf utilizing a previously described optimized Gal4-UAS system. We confirmed both nuclear targeting and functionality of the modified probe in vitro and measured its kinetics in response to action potentials (APs). We then demonstrated in vivo functionality of nuclear-localized GCaMP3 in transgenic zebrafish strains by identifying eye position-sensitive fluorescence fluctuations in caudal hindbrain neurons during spontaneous eye movements. Our methodological approach will facilitate studies of larval zebrafish circuitry by both improving resolution of functional Ca(2+) signals and by allowing brain-wide expression of improved GECIs, or potentially any probe, further into development.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fncir.2014.00138

    View details for Web of Science ID 000346556700001

    View details for PubMedID 25505384

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4244806

  • Orexin A and orexin receptor 1 axonal traffic in dorsal roots at the CNS/PNS interface. Frontiers in neuroscience Colas, D., Manca, A., Delcroix, J., Mourrain, P. 2014; 8: 20-?


    Hypothalamic orexin/hypocretin neurons send long axonal projections through the dorsal spinal cord in lamina I-II of the dorsal horn (DH) at the interface with the peripheral nervous system (PNS). We show that in the DH OXA fibers colocalize with substance P (SP) positive afferents of dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons known to mediate sensory processing. Further, OR1 is expressed in p75(NTR) and SP positive DRG neurons, suggesting a potential signaling pathway between orexin and DRG neurons. Interestingly, DRG sensory neurons have a distinctive bifurcating axon where one branch innervates the periphery and the other one the spinal cord (pseudo-unipolar neurons), allowing for potential functional coupling of distinct targets. We observe that OR1 is transported selectively from DRG toward the spinal cord, while OXA is accumulated retrogradely toward the DRG. We hence report a rare situation of asymmetrical neuropeptide receptor distribution between axons projected by a single neuron. These molecular and cellular data are consistent with the role of OXA/OR1 in sensory processing, including DRG neuronal modulation, and support the potential existence of an OX/HCRT circuit between CNS and PNS.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fnins.2014.00020

    View details for PubMedID 24574957

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3920189

  • Tracking zebrafish larvae in group - Status and perspectives. Methods (San Diego, Calif.) Martineau, P. R., Mourrain, P. 2013; 62 (3): 292-303


    Video processing is increasingly becoming a standard procedure in zebrafish behavior investigations as it enables higher research throughput and new or better measures. This trend, fostered by the ever increasing performance-to-price ratio of the required recording and processing equipment, should be expected to continue in the foreseeable future, with video-processing based methods permeating more and more experiments and, as a result, expanding the very role of behavioral studies in zebrafish research. To assess whether the routine video tracking of zebrafish larvae directly in the Petri dish is a capability that can be expected in the near future, the key processing concepts are discussed and illustrated on published zebrafish studies when available or other animals when not.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ymeth.2013.05.002

    View details for PubMedID 23707495

  • Imaging zebrafish neural circuitry from whole brain to synapse. Frontiers in neural circuits Leung, L. C., Wang, G. X., Mourrain, P. 2013; 7: 76-?

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fncir.2013.00076

    View details for PubMedID 23630470

  • Synaptic plasticity in sleep: learning, homeostasis and disease TRENDS IN NEUROSCIENCES Wang, G., Grone, B., Colas, D., Appelbaum, L., Mourrain, P. 2011; 34 (9): 452-463


    Sleep is a fundamental and evolutionarily conserved aspect of animal life. Recent studies have shed light on the role of sleep in synaptic plasticity. Demonstrations of memory replay and synapse homeostasis suggest that one essential role of sleep is in the consolidation and optimization of synaptic circuits to retain salient memory traces despite the noise of daily experience. Here, we review this recent evidence and suggest that sleep creates a heightened state of plasticity, which may be essential for this optimization. Furthermore, we discuss how sleep deficits seen in diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and autism spectrum disorders might not just reflect underlying circuit malfunction, but could also play a direct role in the progression of those disorders.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tins.2011.07.005

    View details for Web of Science ID 000294941300002

    View details for PubMedID 21840068

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3385863

  • Zebrafish: An integrative system for neurogenomics and neurosciences PROGRESS IN NEUROBIOLOGY Rinkwitz, S., Mourrain, P., Becker, T. S. 2011; 93 (2): 231-243


    Rapid technological advances over the past decade have moved us closer to a high throughput molecular approach to neurobiology, where we see the merging of neurogenetics, genomics, physiology, imaging and pharmacology. This is the case more in zebrafish than in any other model organism commonly used. Recent improvements in the generation of transgenic zebrafish now allow genetic manipulation and live imaging of neuronal development and function in early embryonic, larval, and adult animals. The sequenced zebrafish genome and comparative genomics give unprecedented insights into genome evolution and its relation to genome structure and function. There is now information on embryonic and larval expression of over 12,000 genes and just under 1000 mutant phenotypes. We review the remarkable similarity of the zebrafish genetic blueprint for the nervous system to that of mammals and assess recent technological advances that make the zebrafish a model of choice for elucidating the development and function of neuronal circuitry, transgene-based neuroanatomy, and small molecule neuropharmacology.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2010.11.003

    View details for Web of Science ID 000287950400005

    View details for PubMedID 21130139

  • Circadian and Homeostatic Regulation of Structural Synaptic Plasticity in Hypocretin Neurons NEURON Appelbaum, L., Wang, G., Yokogawa, T., Skariah, G. M., Smith, S. J., Mourrain, P., Mignot, E. 2010; 68 (1): 87-98


    Neurons exhibit rhythmic activity that ultimately affects behavior such as sleep. In living zebrafish larvae, we used time-lapse two-photon imaging of the presynaptic marker synaptophysin in hypocretin/orexin (HCRT) neurons to determine the dynamics of synaptic modifications during the day and night. We observed circadian rhythmicity in synapse number in HCRT axons. This rhythm is regulated primarily by the circadian clock but is also affected by sleep deprivation. Furthermore, NPTX2, a protein implicated in AMPA receptor clustering, modulates circadian synaptic changes. In zebrafish, nptx2b is a rhythmic gene that is mostly expressed in hypothalamic and pineal gland cells. Arrhythmic transgenic nptx2b overexpression (hcrt:NPTX2b) increases synapse number and abolishes rhythmicity in HCRT axons. Finally, hcrt:NPTX2b fish are resistant to the sleep-promoting effects of melatonin. This behavioral effect is consistent with NPTX2b-mediated increased activity of HCRT circuitry. These data provide real-time in vivo evidence of circadian and homeostatic regulation of structural synaptic plasticity.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.09.006

    View details for Web of Science ID 000283704200010

    View details for PubMedID 20920793

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2969179

  • Sleep-wake regulation and hypocretin-melatonin interaction in zebrafish PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Appelbaum, L., Wang, G. X., Maro, G. S., Mori, R., Tovin, A., Marin, W., Yokogawa, T., Kawakami, K., Smith, S. J., Gothilf, Y., Mignot, E., Mourrain, P. 2009; 106 (51): 21942-21947


    In mammals, hypocretin/orexin (HCRT) neuropeptides are important sleep-wake regulators and HCRT deficiency causes narcolepsy. In addition to fragmented wakefulness, narcoleptic mammals also display sleep fragmentation, a less understood phenotype recapitulated in the zebrafish HCRT receptor mutant (hcrtr-/-). We therefore used zebrafish to study the potential mediators of HCRT-mediated sleep consolidation. Similar to mammals, zebrafish HCRT neurons express vesicular glutamate transporters indicating conservation of the excitatory phenotype. Visualization of the entire HCRT circuit in zebrafish stably expressing hcrt:EGFP revealed parallels with established mammalian HCRT neuroanatomy, including projections to the pineal gland, where hcrtr mRNA is expressed. As pineal-produced melatonin is a major sleep-inducing hormone in zebrafish, we further studied how the HCRT and melatonin systems interact functionally. mRNA level of arylalkylamine-N-acetyltransferase (AANAT2), a key enzyme of melatonin synthesis, is reduced in hcrtr-/- pineal gland during the night. Moreover, HCRT perfusion of cultured zebrafish pineal glands induces melatonin release. Together these data indicate that HCRT can modulate melatonin production at night. Furthermore, hcrtr-/- fish are hypersensitive to melatonin, but not other hypnotic compounds. Subthreshold doses of melatonin increased the amount of sleep and consolidated sleep in hcrtr-/- fish, but not in the wild-type siblings. These results demonstrate the existence of a functional HCRT neurons-pineal gland circuit able to modulate melatonin production and sleep consolidation.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.906637106

    View details for Web of Science ID 000272994200086

    View details for PubMedID 19966231

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2799794

  • Characterization of Two Melanin-Concentrating Hormone Genes in Zebrafish Reveals Evolutionary and Physiological Links with the Mammalian MCH System JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE NEUROLOGY Berman, J. R., Skariah, G., Maro, G. S., Mignot, E., Mourrain, P. 2009; 517 (5): 695-710


    Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) regulates feeding and complex behaviors in mammals and pigmentation in fish. The relationship between fish and mammalian MCH systems is not well understood. Here, we identify and characterize two MCH genes in zebrafish, Pmch1 and Pmch2. Whereas Pmch1 and its corresponding MCH1 peptide resemble MCH found in other fish, the zebrafish Pmch2 gene and MCH2 peptide share genomic structure, synteny, and high peptide sequence homology with mammalian MCH. Zebrafish Pmch genes are expressed in closely associated but non-overlapping neurons within the hypothalamus, and MCH2 neurons send numerous projections to multiple MCH receptor-rich targets with presumed roles in sensory perception, learning and memory, arousal, and homeostatic regulation. Preliminary functional analysis showed that whereas changes in zebrafish Pmch1 expression correlate with pigmentation changes, the number of MCH2-expressing neurons increases in response to chronic food deprivation. These findings demonstrate that zebrafish MCH2 is the putative structural and functional ortholog of mammalian MCH and help elucidate the nature of MCH evolution among vertebrates.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/cne.22171

    View details for Web of Science ID 000271112000011

    View details for PubMedID 19827161

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3427774

  • Live analysis of endodermal layer formation identifies random walk as a novel gastrulation movement CURRENT BIOLOGY Pezeron, G., Mourrain, P., Courty, S., Ghislain, J., Becker, T. S., Rosa, F. M., David, N. B. 2008; 18 (4): 276-281


    During gastrulation, dramatic movements rearrange cells into three germ layers expanded over the entire embryo [1-3]. In fish, both endoderm and mesoderm are specified as a belt at the embryo margin. Mesodermal layer expansion is achieved through the combination of two directed migrations. The outer ring of precursors moves toward the vegetal pole and continuously seeds mesodermal cells inside the embryo, which then reverse their movement in the direction of the animal pole [3-6]. Unlike mesoderm, endodermal cells internalize at once and must therefore adopt a different strategy to expand over the embryo [7, 8]. With live imaging of YFP-expressing zebrafish endodermal cells, we demonstrate that in contrast to mesoderm, internalized endodermal cells display a nonoriented/noncoordinated movement fit by a random walk that rapidly disperses them over the yolk surface. Transplantation experiments reveal that this behaviour is largely cell autonomous, induced by TGF-beta/Nodal, and dependent on the downstream effector Casanova. At midgastrulation, endodermal cells switch to a convergence movement. We demonstrate that this switch is triggered by environmental cues. These results uncover random walk as a novel Nodal-induced gastrulation movement and as an efficient strategy to transform a localized cell group into a layer expanded over the embryo.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2008.01.028

    View details for Web of Science ID 000253470300027

    View details for PubMedID 18291651

  • Rasl11b Knock Down in Zebrafish Suppresses One-Eyed-Pinhead Mutant Phenotype PLOS ONE Pezeron, G., Lambert, G., Dickmeis, T., Straehle, U., Rosa, F. M., Mourrain, P. 2008; 3 (1)


    The EGF-CFC factor Oep/Cripto1/Frl1 has been implicated in embryogenesis and several human cancers. During vertebrate development, Oep/Cripto1/Frl1 has been shown to act as an essential coreceptor in the TGFbeta/Nodal pathway, which is crucial for germ layer formation. Although studies in cell cultures suggest that Oep/Cripto1/Frl1 is also implicated in other pathways, in vivo it is solely regarded as a Nodal coreceptor. We have found that Rasl11b, a small GTPase belonging to a Ras subfamily of putative tumor suppressor genes, modulates Oep function in zebrafish independently of the Nodal pathway. rasl11b down regulation partially rescues endodermal and prechordal plate defects of zygotic oep(-/-) mutants (Zoep). Rasl11b inhibitory action was only observed in oep-deficient backgrounds, suggesting that normal oep expression prevents Rasl11b function. Surprisingly, rasl11b down regulation does not rescue mesendodermal defects in other Nodal pathway mutants, nor does it influence the phosphorylation state of the downstream effector Smad2. Thus, Rasl11b modifies the effect of Oep on mesendoderm development independently of the main known Oep output: the Nodal signaling pathway. This data suggests a new branch of Oep signaling that has implications for germ layer development, as well as for studies of Oep/Frl1/Cripto1 dysfunction, such as that found in tumors.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0001434

    View details for Web of Science ID 000260503800006

    View details for PubMedID 18197245

  • Comparative expression of p2x receptors and ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase 3 in hypocretin and sensory neurons in zebrafish BRAIN RESEARCH Appelbaum, L., Skariah, G., Mourrain, P., Mignot, E. 2007; 1174: 66-75


    The hypocretin/orexin (HCRT/ORX) excitatory neuropeptides are expressed in a small population of lateral hypothalamic cells in mammals and fish. In humans, loss of these cells causes the sleep disorder narcolepsy. Identification of genes expressed in HCRT-producing cells may be revealing as to the regulation of sleep and the pathophysiology of narcolepsy. In this study, in situ hybridization analyses were performed to characterize the expression pattern of receptors and enzyme, which regulate ATP-mediated transmission in hypocretin cells of zebrafish larvae. The zebrafish cDNA encoding the ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase 3 (ENTPD3/NTPDase3) was isolated. This transcript was found to be expressed in zebrafish HCRT cells as previously reported in mammals. It was also expressed in the cranial nerves (gV, gVII, gIV and gX) and in primary sensory neurons (i.e., Rohon-Beard neurons) in the spinal cord. The expression of known zebrafish p2rx purinergic receptor family members was next studied and found to overlap with the entpd3 expression pattern. Specifically, p2rx2, p2rx3.1, p2rx3.2 and p2rx8 were expressed in the trigeminal ganglia and subsets of Rohon-Beard neurons. In contrast to mammals, p2rx2 was not expressed in HCRT cells; rather, p2rx8 was expressed with entpd3 in this hypothalamic region. The conservation of expression of these genes in HCRT cells and sensory neurons across vertebrates suggests an important role for ATP mediated transmission in the regulation of sleep and the processing of sensory inputs.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.brainres.2007.06.103

    View details for Web of Science ID 000250612200008

    View details for PubMedID 17868657

  • Characterization of sleep in zebrafish and insomnia in hypocretin receptor mutants PLOS BIOLOGY Yokogawa, T., Marin, W., Faraco, J., Pezeron, G., Appelbaum, L., Zhang, J., Rosa, F., Mourrain, P., Mignot, E. 2007; 5 (10): 2379-2397


    Sleep is a fundamental biological process conserved across the animal kingdom. The study of how sleep regulatory networks are conserved is needed to better understand sleep across evolution. We present a detailed description of a sleep state in adult zebrafish characterized by reversible periods of immobility, increased arousal threshold, and place preference. Rest deprivation using gentle electrical stimulation is followed by a sleep rebound, indicating homeostatic regulation. In contrast to mammals and similarly to birds, light suppresses sleep in zebrafish, with no evidence for a sleep rebound. We also identify a null mutation in the sole receptor for the wake-promoting neuropeptide hypocretin (orexin) in zebrafish. Fish lacking this receptor demonstrate short and fragmented sleep in the dark, in striking contrast to the excessive sleepiness and cataplexy of narcolepsy in mammals. Consistent with this observation, we find that the hypocretin receptor does not colocalize with known major wake-promoting monoaminergic and cholinergic cell groups in the zebrafish. Instead, it colocalizes with large populations of GABAergic neurons, including a subpopulation of Adra2a-positive GABAergic cells in the anterior hypothalamic area, neurons that could assume a sleep modulatory role. Our study validates the use of zebrafish for the study of sleep and indicates molecular diversity in sleep regulatory networks across vertebrates.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.0050277

    View details for Web of Science ID 000251072700025

    View details for PubMedID 17941721

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2020497

  • Genomic regulatory blocks encompass multiple neighboring genes and maintain conserved synteny in vertebrates GENOME RESEARCH Kikuta, H., Laplante, M., Navratilova, P., Komisarczuk, A. Z., Engstrom, P. G., Fredman, D., Akalin, A., Caccamo, M., Sealy, I., Howe, K., Ghislain, J., Pezeron, G., Mourrain, P., Ellingsen, S., Oates, A. C., Thisse, C., Thisse, B., Foucher, I., Adolf, B., Geling, A., Lenhard, B., Becker, T. S. 2007; 17 (5): 545-555


    We report evidence for a mechanism for the maintenance of long-range conserved synteny across vertebrate genomes. We found the largest mammal-teleost conserved chromosomal segments to be spanned by highly conserved noncoding elements (HCNEs), their developmental regulatory target genes, and phylogenetically and functionally unrelated "bystander" genes. Bystander genes are not specifically under the control of the regulatory elements that drive the target genes and are expressed in patterns that are different from those of the target genes. Reporter insertions distal to zebrafish developmental regulatory genes pax6.1/2, rx3, id1, and fgf8 and miRNA genes mirn9-1 and mirn9-5 recapitulate the expression patterns of these genes even if located inside or beyond bystander genes, suggesting that the regulatory domain of a developmental regulatory gene can extend into and beyond adjacent transcriptional units. We termed these chromosomal segments genomic regulatory blocks (GRBs). After whole genome duplication in teleosts, GRBs, including HCNEs and target genes, were often maintained in both copies, while bystander genes were typically lost from one GRB, strongly suggesting that evolutionary pressure acts to keep the single-copy GRBs of higher vertebrates intact. We show that loss of bystander genes and other mutational events suffered by duplicated GRBs in teleost genomes permits target gene identification and HCNE/target gene assignment. These findings explain the absence of evolutionary breakpoints from large vertebrate chromosomal segments and will aid in the recognition of position effect mutations within human GRBs.

    View details for DOI 10.1101/gr.6086307

    View details for Web of Science ID 000246297900001

    View details for PubMedID 17387144

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC1855176

  • A single transgene locus triggers both transcriptional and post-transcriptional silencing through double-stranded RNA production PLANTA Mourrain, P., van Blokland, R., Kooter, J. M., Vaucheret, H. 2007; 225 (2): 365-379


    Silencing of a target locus by an unlinked silencing locus can result from transcription inhibition (transcriptional gene silencing; TGS) or mRNA degradation (post-transcriptional gene silencing; PTGS), owing to the production of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) corresponding to promoter or transcribed sequences, respectively. The involvement of distinct cellular components in each process suggests that dsRNA-induced TGS and PTGS likely result from the diversification of an ancient common mechanism. However, a strict comparison of TGS and PTGS has been difficult to achieve because it generally relies on the analysis of distinct silencing loci. We describe a single transgene locus that triggers both TGS and PTGS, owing to the production of dsRNA corresponding to promoter and transcribed sequences of different target genes. We describe mutants and epigenetic variants derived from this locus and propose a model for the production of dsRNA. Also, we show that PTGS, but not TGS, is graft-transmissible, which together with the sensitivity of PTGS, but not TGS, to RNA viruses that replicate in the cytoplasm, suggest that the nuclear compartmentalization of TGS is responsible for cell-autonomy. In contrast, we contribute local and systemic trafficking of silencing signals and sensitivity to viruses to the cytoplasmic steps of PTGS and to amplification steps that require high levels of target mRNAs.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00425-006-0366-1

    View details for Web of Science ID 000242855000010

    View details for PubMedID 16924537

  • Regulation of hypocretin (orexin) expression in embryonic zebrafish JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Faraco, J. H., Appelbaum, L., Marin, W., Gaus, S. E., Mourrain, P., Mignot, E. 2006; 281 (40): 29753-29761


    Hypocretins/orexins are neuropeptides involved in the regulation of sleep and energy balance in mammals. Conservation of gene sequence, hypothalamic localization of cell bodies, and projection patterns in adult zebrafish suggest that the architecture and function of the hypocretin system are conserved in fish. We report on the complete genomic structure of the zebrafish and Tetraodon hypocretin genes and the complete predicted hypocretin protein sequences from five teleosts. Using whole mount in situ hybridization, we have traced the development of hypocretin cells in zebrafish from onset of expression at 22 h post-fertilization through the first week of development. Promoter elements of similar size from zebrafish and Tetraodon were capable of driving efficient and specific expression of enhanced green fluorescent protein in developing zebrafish embryos, thus defining a minimal promoter region able to accurately mimic the native hypocretin pattern. This enhanced green fluorescent protein expression also revealed a complex pattern of projections within the hypothalamus, to the midbrain, and to the spinal cord. To further analyze the promoter, a series of deletion and substitution constructs were injected into embryos, and resulting promoter activity was monitored in the first week of development. A critical region of 250 base pairs was identified containing a core 13-base pair element essential for hypocretin expression.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M605811200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000240896300037

    View details for PubMedID 16867991

  • Duplicate sfrp1 genes in zebrafish: sfrp1a is dynamically expressed in the developing central nervous system, gut and lateral line GENE EXPRESSION PATTERNS Pezeron, G., Anselme, I., Laplante, M., Ellingsen, S., Becker, T. S., Rosa, F. M., Charnay, P., Schneider-Maunoury, S., Mourrain, P., Ghislain, J. 2006; 6 (8): 835-842


    The secreted frizzled-related proteins (Sfrp) are a family of soluble proteins with diverse biological functions having the capacity to bind Wnt ligands, to modulate Wnt signalling, and to signal directly via the Wnt receptor, Frizzled. In an enhancer trap screen for embryonic expression in zebrafish we identified an sfrp1 gene. Previous studies suggest an important role for sfrp1 in eye development, however, no data have been reported using the zebrafish model. In this paper, we describe duplicate sfrp1 genes in zebrafish and present a detailed analysis of the expression profile of both genes. Whole mount in situ hybridisation analyses of sfrp1a during embryonic and larval development revealed a dynamic expression profile, including: the central nervous system, where sfrp1a was regionally expressed throughout the brain and developing eye; the posterior gut, from the time of endodermal cell condensation; the lateral line, where sfrp1a was expressed in the migrating primordia and interneuromast cells that give rise to the sensory organs. Other sites included the blastoderm, segmenting mesoderm, olfactory placode, developing ear, pronephros and fin-bud. We have also analysed sfrp1b expression during embryonic development. Surprisingly this gene exhibited a divergent expression profile being limited to the yolk syncytium under the elongating tail-bud, which later covered the distal yolk extension, and transiently in the tail-bud mesenchyme. Overall, our studies provide a basis for future analyses of these developmentally important factors using the zebrafish model.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.modgep.2006.02.002

    View details for Web of Science ID 000240801600009

    View details for PubMedID 16545988

  • Arabidopsis histone deacetylase HDA6 is required for maintenance of transcriptional gene silencing and determines nuclear organization of rDNA repeats PLANT CELL Probst, A. V., Fagard, M., Proux, F., Mourrain, P., Boutet, S., Earley, K., Lawrence, R. J., Pikaard, C. S., Murfett, J., Furner, I., Vaucheret, H., Scheid, O. M. 2004; 16 (4): 1021-1034


    Histone acetylation and deacetylation are connected with transcriptional activation and silencing in many eukaryotic organisms. Gene families for enzymes that accomplish these modifications show a surprising multiplicity in sequence and expression levels, suggesting a high specificity for different targets. We show that mutations in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) HDA6, a putative class I histone deacetylase gene, result in loss of transcriptional silencing from several repetitive transgenic and endogenous templates. Surprisingly, total levels of histone H4 acetylation are only slightly affected, whereas significant hyperacetylation is restricted to the nucleolus organizer regions that contain the rDNA repeats. This switch coincides with an increase of histone 3 methylation at Lys residue 4, a modified DNA methylation pattern, and a concomitant decondensation of the chromatin. These results indicate that HDA6 might play a role in regulating activity of rRNA genes, and this control might be functionally linked to silencing of other repetitive templates and to its previously assigned role in RNA-directed DNA methylation.

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.018754

    View details for Web of Science ID 000220731900022

    View details for PubMedID 15037732

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC412874

  • Fertile hypomorphic ARGONAUTE (ago1) mutants impaired in post-transcriptional gene silencing and virus resistance PLANT CELL Morel, J. B., Godon, C., Mourrain, P., Beclin, C., Boutet, S., Feuerbach, F., Proux, F., Vaucheret, H. 2002; 14 (3): 629-639


    Transgene-induced post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) results from specific degradation of RNAs that are homologous with the transgene transcribed sequence. This phenomenon, also known as cosuppression in plants and quelling in fungi, resembles RNA interference (RNAi) in animals. Indeed, cosuppression/quelling/RNAi require related PAZ/PIWI proteins (AGO1/QDE-2/RDE-1), indicating that these mechanisms are related. Unlike Neurospora crassa qde-2 and Caenorhabditis elegans rde-1 mutants, which are morphologically normal, the 24 known Arabidopsis ago1 mutants display severe developmental abnormalities and are sterile. Here, we report the isolation of hypomorphic ago1 mutants, including fertile ones. We show that these hypomorphic ago1 mutants are defective for PTGS, like null sgs2, sgs3, and ago1 mutants, suggesting that PTGS is more sensitive than development to perturbations in AGO1. Conversely, a mutation in ZWILLE/PINHEAD, another member of the Arabidopsis AGO1 gene family, affects development but not PTGS. Similarly, mutations in ALG-1 and ALG-2, two members of the C. elegans RDE-1 gene family, affect development but not RNAi, indicating that the control of PTGS/RNAi and development by PAZ/PIWI proteins can be uncoupled. Finally, we show that hypomorphic ago1 mutants are hypersensitive to virus infection, confirming the hypothesis that in plants PTGS is a mechanism of defense against viruses.

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.010358

    View details for Web of Science ID 000174788700011

    View details for PubMedID 11910010

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC150585

  • Molecular integration of casanova in the Nodal signalling pathway controlling endoderm formation DEVELOPMENT Aoki, T. O., David, N. B., Minchiotti, G., Saint-Etienne, L., Dickmeis, T., Persico, G. M., Strahle, U., Mourrain, P., Rosa, F. M. 2002; 129 (2): 275-286


    Endoderm originates from a large endomesodermal field requiring Nodal signalling. The mechanisms that ensure segregation of endoderm from mesoderm are not fully understood. We first show that the timing and dose of Nodal activation are crucial for endoderm formation and the endoderm versus mesoderm fate choice, because sustained Nodal signalling is required to ensure endoderm formation but transient signalling is sufficient for mesoderm formation. In zebrafish, downstream of Nodal signals, three genes encoding transcription factors (faust, bonnie and clyde and the recently identified gene casanova) are required for endoderm formation and differentiation. However their positions within the pathway are not completely established. In the present work, we show that casanova is the earliest specification marker for endodermal cells and that its expression requires bonnie and clyde. Furthermore, we have analysed the molecular activities of casanova on endoderm formation and found that it can induce endodermal markers and repress mesodermal markers during gastrulation, as well as change the fate of marginal blastomeres to endoderm. Overexpression of casanova also restores endoderm markers in the absence of Nodal signalling. In addition, casanova efficiently restores later endodermal differentiation in these mutants, but this process requires, in addition, a partial activation of Nodal signalling.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000173759100001

    View details for PubMedID 11807021

  • Identification of nodal signaling targets by array analysis of induced complex probes DEVELOPMENTAL DYNAMICS Dickmeis, T., Aanstad, P., Clark, M., Fischer, N., Herwig, R., Mourrain, P., Blader, P., ROSA, F., Lehrach, H., Strahle, U. 2001; 222 (4): 571-580


    Nodal signaling controls germ layer formation, left-right asymmetry, and patterning of the brain in the vertebrate embryo. Cellular responses to Nodal signals are complex and include changes in gene expression, cell morphology, and migratory behavior. Only little is known about the genes regulated by Nodal signaling. We designed a subtractive screening strategy by using a constitutively active Nodal receptor to identify putative target genes of Nodal signals in the early gastrula of zebrafish embryos. By quantitative analysis of macro-array hybridizations, 132 genes corresponding to 1.4% of genes on the entire macro-array were identified, which were enriched in the Nodal-induced probe pool. These genes encode components of signal transduction pathways, transcription regulators, proteins involved in protein metabolism but also cytoskeletal components and metabolic enzymes, suggesting dramatic changes of cell physiology in gastrula cells in response to Nodal signals.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000172478100004

    View details for PubMedID 11748827

  • A crucial component of the endoderm formation pathway, CASANOVA, is encoded by a novel sox-related gene GENES & DEVELOPMENT Dickmeis, T., Mourrain, P., Saint-Etienne, L., Fischer, N., Aanstad, P., Clark, M., Strahle, U., ROSA, F. 2001; 15 (12): 1487-1492


    casanova (cas) mutant zebrafish embryos lack endoderm and develop cardia bifida. In a substractive screen for Nodal-responsive genes, we isolated an HMG box-containing gene, 10J3, which is expressed in the endoderm. The cas phenotype is rescued by overexpression of 10J3 and can be mimicked by 10J3-directed morpholinos. Furthermore, we identified a mutation within 10J3 coding sequence that cosegregates with the cas phenotype, clearly demonstrating that cas is encoded by 10J3. Epistasis experiments are consistent with an instructive role for cas in endoderm formation downstream of Nodal signals and upstream of sox17. In the absence of cas activity, endoderm progenitors differentiate into mesodermal derivatives. Thus, cas is an HMG box-containing gene involved in the fate decision between endoderm and mesoderm that acts downstream of Nodal signals.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000169334200004

    View details for PubMedID 11410529

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC312720

  • DNA methylation and chromatin structure affect transcriptional and post-transcriptional transgene silencing in Arabidopsis CURRENT BIOLOGY Morel, J. B., Mourrain, P., Beclin, C., Vaucheret, H. 2000; 10 (24): 1591-1594


    In plants, transgenes can be silenced at both the transcriptional [1] and post-transcriptional levels [2]. Methylation of the transgene promoter correlates with transcriptional gene silencing (TGS) [3] whereas methylation of the coding sequence is associated with post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) [4]. In animals, TGS requires methylation and changes in chromatin conformation [5]. The involvement of methylation during PTGS in plants is unclear and organisms with non-methylated genomes such as Caenorhabditis elegans or Drosophila can display RNA interference (RNAi), a silencing process mechanistically related to PTGS [6]. Here, we crossed Arabidopsis mutants impaired in a SWI2/SNF2 chromatin component (ddm1 [7]) or in the major DNA methyltransferase (met1 [8] and E. Richards, personal communication) with transgenic lines in which a reporter consisting of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter fused to the beta-glucuronidase (GUS) gene (35S-GUS) was silenced by TGS or PTGS. We observed an efficient release of 35S-GUS TGS by both the ddm1 and met1 mutations and stochastic release of 35S-GUS PTGS by these two mutations during development. These results show that DNA methylation and chromatin structure are common regulators of TGS and PTGS.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000166807100020

    View details for PubMedID 11137011

  • Arabidopsis SGS2 and SGS3 genes are required for posttranscriptional gene silencing and natural virus resistance CELL Mourrain, P., Beclin, C., Elmayan, T., Feuerbach, F., Godon, C., Morel, J. B., Jouette, D., Lacombe, A. M., Nikic, S., Picault, N., Remoue, K., Sanial, M., Vo, T. A., Vaucheret, H. 2000; 101 (5): 533-542


    Posttranscriptional gene silencing (PTGS) in plants resuits from the degradation of mRNAs and shows phenomenological similarities with quelling in fungi and RNAi in animals. Here, we report the isolation of sgs2 and sgs3 Arabidopsis mutants impaired in PTGS. We establish a mechanistic link between PTGS, quelling, and RNAi since the Arabidopsis SGS2 protein is similar to an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase like N. crassa QDE-1, controlling quelling, and C. elegans EGO-1, controlling RNAi. In contrast, SGS3 shows no significant similarity with any known or putative protein, thus defining a specific step of PTGS in plants. Both sgs2 and sgs3 mutants show enhanced susceptibility to virus, definitively proving that PTGS is an antiviral defense mechanism that can also target transgene RNA for degradation.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000087375400010

    View details for PubMedID 10850495

  • Plant viral suppressors of post-transcriptional silencing do not suppress transcriptional silencing PLANT JOURNAL Marathe, R., Smith, T. H., Anandalakshmi, R., Bowman, L. H., Fagard, M., Mourrain, P., Vaucheret, H., Vance, V. B. 2000; 22 (1): 51-59


    Homology-dependent gene silencing is a regulatory mechanism that limits RNA accumulation from affected loci either by suppression of transcription (transcriptional gene silencing, TGS) or by activation of a sequence-specific RNA degradation process (post-transcriptional gene silencing, PTGS). The P1/HC-Pro sequence of plant potyviruses and the 2b gene of the cucumber mosaic virus have been shown to interfere with PTGS. The ability of these viral suppressors of PTGS to interfere with TGS was tested using the 271 locus which imposes TGS on transgenes under 35S or 19S promoters and PTGS on the endogenous nitrite reductase gene (Nii). Both P1/HC-Pro and 2b reversed PTGS of Nii genes in 271-containing tobacco plants, but failed to reverse TGS of 35S-GUS transgenes in the same plant. P1/HC-Pro expression from a transgene also failed to suppress either the initiation or maintenance of TGS imposed by the NOSpro-silencing locus, H2. These results indicate that PTGS and TGS operate through unlinked pathways or that P1/HC-Pro and 2b interfere at step(s) in PTGS that are downstream of any common components in the two pathways. The data suggest a simple assay to identify post-transcriptionally silenced transgenic lines with the potential to be stably converted to high expressing lines.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000086930100006

    View details for PubMedID 10792820

  • Are gene silencing mutants good tools for reliable transgene expression or reliable silencing of endogenous genes in plants? Genetic engineering Mourrain, P., Béclin, C., Vaucheret, H. 2000; 22: 155-170

    View details for PubMedID 11501375

  • Transgene-induced gene silencing in plants PLANT JOURNAL Vaucheret, H., Beclin, C., Elmayan, T., Feuerbach, F., Godon, C., Morel, J. B., Mourrain, P., Palauqui, J. C., Vernhettes, S. 1998; 16 (6): 651-659

    View details for Web of Science ID 000078001900001

    View details for PubMedID 10069073

  • Arabidopsis mutants impaired in cosuppression PLANT CELL Elmayan, T., Balzergue, S., Beon, F., Bourdon, V., Daubremet, J., Guenet, Y., Mourrain, P., Palauqui, J. C., Vernhettes, S., Vialle, T., Wostrikoff, K., Vaucheret, H. 1998; 10 (10): 1747-1757


    Post-transcriptional gene silencing (cosuppression) results in the degradation of RNA after transcription. A transgenic Arabidopsis line showing post-transcriptional silencing of a 35S-uidA transgene and uidA-specific methylation was mutagenized using ethyl methanesulfonate. Six independent plants were isolated in which uidA mRNA accumulation and beta-glucuronidase activity were increased up to 3500-fold, whereas the transcription rate of the 35S-uidA transgene was increased only up to threefold. These plants each carried a recessive monogenic mutation that is responsible for the release of silencing. These mutations defined two genetic loci, called sgs1 and sgs2 (for suppressor of gene silencing). Transgene methylation was distinctly modified in sgs1 and sgs2 mutants. However, methylation of centromeric repeats was not affected, indicating that sgs mutants differ from ddm (for decrease in DNA methylation) and som (for somniferous) mutants. Indeed, unlike ddm and som mutations, sgs mutations were not able to release transcriptional silencing of a 35S-hpt transgene. Conversely, both sgs1 and sgs2 mutations were able to release cosuppression of host Nia genes and 35S-Nia2 transgenes. These results therefore indicate that sgs mutations act in trans to impede specifically transgene-induced post-transcriptional gene silencing.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000076588500014

    View details for PubMedID 9761800

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC143939

  • ActA is a dimer PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Mourrain, P., Lasa, I., Gautreau, A., Gouin, E., PUGSLEY, A., Cossart, P. 1997; 94 (19): 10034-10039


    ActA, a surface protein of Listeria monocytogenes, is able to induce continuous actin polymerization at the rear of the bacterium, in the cytosol of the infected cells. Its N-terminal domain is sufficient to induce actin tail formation and movement. Here, we demonstrate, using the yeast two-hybrid system, that the N-terminal domain of ActA may form homodimers. By using chemical cross-linking to explore the possibility that ActA could be a multimer on the surface of the bacteria, we show that ActA is a dimer. Cross-linking experiments on various L. monocytogenes strains expressing different ActA variants demonstrated that the region spanning amino acids 97-126, and previously identified as critical for actin tail formation, is also critical for dimer formation. A model of actin polymerization by L. monocytogenes, involving the ActA dimer, is presented.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997XX39900008

    View details for PubMedID 9294158

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC23296

  • Expression of contact, a new zebrafish DVR member, marks mesenchymal cell lineages in the developing pectoral fins and head and is regulated by retinoic acid MECHANISMS OF DEVELOPMENT Bruneau, S., Mourrain, P., Rosa, F. M. 1997; 65 (1-2): 163-173


    Contact, a new zebrafish transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) member is most closely related to mouse GDF5 and to human CDMP-1 responsible, when mutated, for limb brachypodism phenotype and Hunter-Thompson syndrome, respectively. Contact exhibits a dynamic spatial expression pattern in the pharyngeal arches and the pectoral fin buds that much prefigures cartilage formation. Within the fin buds, contact expression is detected in the proximal mesenchyme from which the endoskeleton will develop. Exogeneously applied retinoic acid (RA) induces duplication of the pectoral fin rudiment in zebrafish embryos as well as contact expression along the proximal margin of the fin mesenchyme showing that both endoskeleton and exoskeleton can be duplicated.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997XM19800013

    View details for PubMedID 9256353

  • Nitrate reductase and nitrite reductase as targets to study gene silencing phenomena in transgenic plants EUPHYTICA Vaucheret, H., Palauqui, J. C., Mourrain, P., Elmayan, T. 1997; 93 (2): 195-200
  • Nitrite reductase silencing as a tool for selecting spontaneous haploid plants Plant Cell Reports Vaucheret, H., Mourrain, P., Robalo, J., Pollien, J. 1995; 15 (1-2): 12-16