2022 journal article
The Cyanotoxin 2,4-DAB Reduces Viability and Causes Behavioral and Molecular Dysfunctions Associated with Neurodegeneration in Larval Zebrafish
Neurotoxicity Research, 40(2), 347–364.
Exposure to cyanotoxins has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease. While the cyanotoxin β-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) has received much attention, cyanobacteria produce many cyanotoxic compounds, several of which have been detected in nature alongside BMAA, including 2,4-diaminobutyric acid (2,4-DAB) and N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine (AEG). Thus, the question of whether 2,4-DAB and AEG also cause neurotoxic effects in vivo is of great interest, as is the question of whether they interact to enhance toxicity. Here, we evaluate the toxic and neurotoxic effects of these cyanotoxins alone or in combination by measuring zebrafish larval viability and behavior after exposure. 2,4-DAB was the most potent cyanotoxin as it decreased larval viability by approximately 50% at 6 days post fertilization, while BMAA and AEG decreased viability by just 16% and 8%, respectively. Although we only observed minor neurotoxic effects on spontaneous locomotion, BMAA and AEG enhanced acoustic startle sensitivity, and they interacted in an additive manner to exert their effects. 2,4-DAB; however, only modulated startle kinematics, an indication of motor dysfunction. To investigate the mechanisms of 2,4-DAB's effects, we analyzed the protein profile of larval zebrafish exposed to 500 µM 2,4-DAB at two time points and identified molecular signatures consistent with neurodegeneration, including disruption of metabolic pathways and downregulation of the ALS-associated genes SOD1 and UBQLN4. Together, our data demonstrate that BMAA and its isomers AEG and 2,4-DAB cause neurotoxic effects in vivo, with 2,4-DAB as the most potent of the three in the zebrafish model.