2020 article

A forward genetic screen identifies Dolk as a regulator of startle magnitude through the potassium channel subunit Kv1.1

Meserve, J. H., Nelson, J. C., Marsden, K. C., Hsu, J., Echeverry, F. A., Jain, R. A., … Granato, M. (2020, June 19). (Vol. 6). Vol. 6.

Source: ORCID
Added: June 21, 2020

Abstract The acoustic startle response is an evolutionary conserved avoidance behavior. Disruptions in startle behavior, in particular startle magnitude, are a hallmark of several human neurological disorders. While the neural circuitry underlying startle behavior has been studied extensively, the repertoire of genes and genetic pathways that regulate this locomotor behavior has not been explored using an unbiased genetic approach. To identify such genes, we took advantage of the stereotypic startle behavior in zebrafish larvae and performed a forward genetic screen coupled with whole genome analysis. This identified mutants in eight genes critical for startle behavior, including two genes encoding proteins associated with human neurological disorders, Dolichol kinase (Dolk), a broadly expressed regulator of the glycoprotein biosynthesis pathway, and the potassium Shaker-like channel subunit Kv1.1. We demonstrate that Kv1.1 acts independently of supraspinal inputs to regulate locomotion, suggesting its site of action is within spinal circuitry. Moreover, we show that Kv1.1 protein is mis-localized in dolk mutants, suggesting they act in a common genetic pathway to regulate movement magnitude. Combined, our results identify a diverse set of eight genes all associated with human disorders that regulate zebrafish startle behavior and reveal a previously unappreciated role for Dolk and Kv1.1 in regulating movement magnitude via a common genetic pathway. Author summary Underlying all animal behaviors are neural circuits, which are controlled by numerous molecular pathways that direct neuron development and activity. To identify and study these molecular pathways that control behavior, we use a simple vertebrate behavior, the acoustic startle response, in the larval zebrafish. In response to an intense noise, larval zebrafish will quickly turn and swim away to escape. From a genetic screen, we have identified a number of mutants that behave in abnormal ways in response to an acoustic stimulus. We cloned these mutants and identified eight genes that regulate startle behavior. All eight genes are associated with human disorders, and here we focus on two genes, dolk and kcna1a , encoding Dolk, a key regulator of protein glycosylation, and the potassium channel Kv1.1, respectively. We demonstrate that loss of dolk or kcna1a causes larval zebrafish to perform exaggerated swim movements and that Dolk is required for Kv1.1 protein localization to axons of neurons throughout the nervous system, providing strong evidence that dolk and kcna1a act in a common molecular pathway. Combined, our studies provide new insights into the genetic regulation of startle behavior.