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2019 | 79 | Suppl.1 |

Tytuł artykułu

Study of neuropeptide functions using zebrafish as a model organism


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Neuropeptides constitute a large class of signaling molecules in the nervous system of many groups of animals. These peptides are extracellular chemical messengers that act as circulating neurohormones, local co‑transmitters, or neuromodulators. Neuropeptides have been well conserved during the course of evolution, indicating their major role as regulators of physiological processes. In our lab, we study neuropeptide functioning using zebrafish as a model organism. One of the more interesting neuropeptides we study is galanin. Galanin is a 29‑30 amino acid neuropeptide widely expressed in the central and peripheral nervous systems in vertebrates. It co‑exists within neurons with several small-molecule classical neurotransmitters and exerts strong inhibitory actions on synaptic transmission by reducing the release of neurotransmitters. Galanin has been implicated in several higher order physiological functions such as nociception, cognition, feeding, mood, and neuroendocrine regulation, which may be relevant to disease states and clinical therapy. Galanin is a highly inducible neuropeptide, showing distinct up-regulation after pathological disturbance within the nervous system. A significant increase in galanin expression is observed after peripheral nerve injury, inflammation, in the basal forebrain in Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and during neuronal development. These early studies suggested that increased galanin concentration might have a trophic influence on nerve repair. Galanin has also been observed in a variety of tumors, where it may affect growth and apoptosis. The above information indicates that galanin is a multifaceted peptide. Although it has been 35 years since its discovery, many of its functions are not fully elucidated. We believe that so far applied research models have some limitations which prevent full understanding of the function of galanin. Therefore, we decided to study the function of galanin using another, not used so far, model – zebrafish. Our previous studies revealed that the zebrafish galanin gene is very similar to that of other studied species. The structure of the zebrafish galanin gene is identical to the gene present in mammals. This strong evolutionary conservation may suggest important and similar roles of galanin in all vertebrates. We already studied the expression of galanin during development and in adult zebrafish. In addition, using antisense oligonucleotides (morpholino), we examined the role of galanin in the development of the nervous system. We also confirmed that galanin regulates blood glucose levels. Our studies in transgenic line with inducible overexpression of galanin revealed that galanin reduced the incidence of seizure‑like behavior episodes and their intensity. Recently we generated a CRISPR-cas9 zebrafish mutant that is demonstrated to lack the expression of galanin. We use it, among others, to study the role of galanin in the neuroendocrine system, innate immunity, bacterial infection, and regeneration of the nervous system.

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  • Department of Pathophysiology Forensic Veterinary Medicine and Administration, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland


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