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Open Access Research article

Zebrafish orthologs of human muscular dystrophy genes

Leta S Steffen1, Jeffrey R Guyon1, Emily D Vogel1, Rosanna Beltre2, Timothy J Pusack1, Yi Zhou2, Leonard I Zon23 and Louis M Kunkel13*

Author Affiliations

1 Children's Hospital, Program in Genomics, Boston, MA, USA and Harvard Medical School, Department of Genetics, 300 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA

2 Children's Hospital, Department of Hematology/Oncology, Boston, MA, USA and Harvard Medical School, Department of Genetics, 300 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA

3 Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Children's Hospital, 300 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA

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BMC Genomics 2007, 8:79  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-79

Published: 20 March 2007

Abstract

Background

Human muscular dystrophies are a heterogeneous group of genetic disorders which cause decreased muscle strength and often result in premature death. There is no known cure for muscular dystrophy, nor have all causative genes been identified. Recent work in the small vertebrate zebrafish Danio rerio suggests that mutation or misregulation of zebrafish dystrophy orthologs can also cause muscular degeneration phenotypes in fish. To aid in the identification of new causative genes, this study identifies and maps zebrafish orthologs for all known human muscular dystrophy genes.

Results

Zebrafish sequence databases were queried for transcripts orthologous to human dystrophy-causing genes, identifying transcripts for 28 out of 29 genes of interest. In addition, the genomic locations of all 29 genes have been found, allowing rapid candidate gene discovery during genetic mapping of zebrafish dystrophy mutants. 19 genes show conservation of syntenic relationships with humans and at least two genes appear to be duplicated in zebrafish. Significant sequence coverage on one or more BAC clone(s) was also identified for 24 of the genes to provide better local sequence information and easy updating of genomic locations as the zebrafish genome assembly continues to evolve.

Conclusion

This resource supports zebrafish as a dystrophy model, suggesting maintenance of all known dystrophy-associated genes in the zebrafish genome. Coupled with the ability to conduct genetic screens and small molecule screens, zebrafish are thus an attractive model organism for isolating new dystrophy-causing genes/pathways and for use in high-throughput therapeutic discovery.