BMC genomics

Whole-genome expression profile in zebrafish embryos after chronic exposure to morphine: identification of new genes associated with neuronal function and mu opioid receptor expression.

PMID 25294025


A great number of studies have investigated changes induced by morphine exposure in gene expression using several experimental models. In this study, we examined gene expression changes during chronic exposure to morphine during maturation and differentiation of zebrafish CNS. Microarray analysis showed 254 genes whose expression was identified as different by at least 1.3 fold change following chronic morphine exposure as compared to controls. Of these, several novel genes (grb2, copb2, otpb, magi1b, grik-l, bnip4 and sox19b) have been detected for the first time in an experimental animal model treated with morphine. We have also identified a subset of genes (dao.1, wls, bnip4 and camk1γb) differentially expressed by chronic morphine exposure whose expression is related to mu opioid receptor gene expression. Altered expression of copb2, bnip4, sox19b, otpb, dao.1, grik-l and wls is indicative of modified neuronal development, CNS patterning processes, differentiation and dopaminergic neurotransmission, serotonergic signaling pathway, and glutamatergic neurotransmission. The deregulation of camk1γb signaling genes suggests an activation of axonogenesis and dendritogenesis. Our study identified different functional classes of genes and individual candidates involved in the mechanisms underlying susceptibility to morphine actions related to CNS development. These results open new lines to study the treatment of pain and the molecular mechanisms involved in addiction. We also found a set of zebrafish-specific morphine-induced genes, which may be putative targets in human models for addiction and pain processes.