Background: Laminins represent major components of basement membranes and play various roles in embryonic and adult tissues. The functional laminin molecule consists of three chains, alpha, beta and gamma, encoded by separate genes. There are twelve different laminin genes identified in mammals to date that are highly homologous in their sequence but different in their tissue distribution. The laminin alpha -1 gene was shown to have the most restricted expression pattern with strong expression in ocular structures, particularly in the developing and mature lens.
Results: We identified the zebrafish lama1 gene encoding a 3075-amino acid protein (lama1) that possesses strong identity with the human LAMA1. Zebrafish lama1 transcripts were detected at all stages of embryo development with the highest levels of expression in the developing lens, somites, nervous and urogenital systems. Translation of the lama1 gene was inhibited using two non-overlapping morpholino oligomers that were complementary to sequences surrounding translation initiation. Morphant embryos exhibited an arrest in lens development and abnormalities in the body axis length and curvature.
Conclusion: These results underline the importance of the laminin alpha 1 for normal ocular development and provide a basis for further analysis of its developmental roles.