Purpose: Zebrafish are a vertebrate organism ideally suited to mutagenesis screening strategies. Although a genetic basis for seizure susceptibility and epilepsy is well established, no efforts have been made to study seizure resistance. Here we describe a novel strategy to isolate seizure-resistant zebrafish mutants from a large-scale mutagenesis screen.
Methods: Seizures were induced with pentylenetetrazole (PTZ). Zebrafish were analyzed between 3 and 7 days postfertilization (dpf). Genome mutations were induced in founders by using N-ethyl-nitrosourea (ENU). Seizure behavior was monitored by using a high-speed camera and quantified by locomotion-tracking software. Electrographic activity was monitored by using a field-recording electrode placed in the optic tectum of agar-immobilized zebrafish.
Results: Short-term PTZ exposure elicited a burst-suppression seizure pattern in 3-dpf zebrafish and more complex activity consisting of interictal- and ictal-like discharges at 7 dpf. Prolonged exposure to PTZ induced status epilepticus-like seizure activity and fatality in wild-type zebrafish larvae. With a PTZ survival assay at 6-7 dpf, we identified six zebrafish mutants in a forward-genetic screen covering nearly 2,000 F(2) families. One mutant (s334) also was shown to exhibit reduced behavioral activity on short-term PTZ exposure and an inability to generate long-duration ictal-like discharge.
Conclusions: Zebrafish offers a powerful tool for the identification and study of a genetic basis for seizure resistance.