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Hearing research

Hearing sensitivity differs between zebrafish lines used in auditory research.


PMID 27646864

Abstract

Zebrafish are increasingly used in auditory studies, in part due to the development of several transgenic lines that express hair cell-specific fluorescent proteins. However, it is largely unknown how transgene expression influences auditory phenotype. We previously observed reduced auditory sensitivity in adult Brn3c:mGFP transgenic zebrafish, which express membrane-bound green fluorescent protein (GFP) in sensory hair cells. Here, we examine the auditory sensitivity of zebrafish from multiple transgenic and background strains. We recorded auditory evoked potentials in adult animals and observed significantly higher auditory thresholds in three lines that express hair cell-specific GFP. There was no obvious correlation between hair cell density and auditory thresholds, suggesting that reduced sensitivity was not due to a reduction in hair cell density. FM1-43 uptake was reduced in Brn3c:mGFP fish but not in other lines, suggesting that a mechanotransduction defect may be responsible for the auditory phenotype in Brn3c animals, but that alternate mechanisms underlie the increased AEP thresholds in other lines. We found reduced prepulse inhibition (a measure of auditory-evoked behavior) in larval Brn3c animals, suggesting that auditory defects develop early in this line. We also found significant differences in auditory sensitivity between adults of different background strains, akin to strain differences observed in mouse models of auditory function. Our results suggest that researchers should exercise caution when selecting an appropriate zebrafish transgenic or background strain for auditory studies.

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