Ontogeny of vasotocin-expressing cells in zebrafish: selective requirement for the transcriptional regulators orthopedia and single-minded 1 in the preoptic area

Dev Dyn. 2008 Apr;237(4):995-1005. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.21503.


The neurohypophysial peptide arginine vasotocin, and its mammalian ortholog arginine vasopressin, influence a wide range of physiological and behavioral responses, including aspects of sexual and social behaviors, osmoregulation, stress response, metabolism, blood pressure, and circadian rhythms. Here, we demonstrate that, in zebrafish (Danio rerio), the vasotocin precursor gene arginine vasotocin-neurophysin (avt) is expressed in two domains in the developing embryo: the dorsal preoptic area and the ventral hypothalamus. In the dorsal preoptic area, avt-expressing cells are intermingled with isotocin-neurophysin (ist) -expressing cells, and these neurons project to the neurohypophysis (posterior pituitary). In the dorsal preoptic area, the transcriptional regulators orthopedia b (otpb) and simple-minded 1 (sim1) are required for expression of both avt and ist. In contrast, otp and sim1 are not required for avt expression in the ventral hypothalamus. Thus, the development of these two avt expression domains is influenced by separate gene regulatory networks.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurophysins / genetics
  • Neurophysins / metabolism
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / genetics
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / metabolism
  • Preoptic Area* / cytology
  • Preoptic Area* / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / metabolism
  • Vasotocin / genetics
  • Vasotocin / metabolism*
  • Zebrafish / anatomy & histology*
  • Zebrafish / embryology*
  • Zebrafish / genetics
  • Zebrafish / metabolism
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics
  • Zebrafish Proteins / metabolism*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Neurophysins
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Sim1a protein, zebrafish
  • Transcription Factors
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • orthopedia protein, zebrafish
  • Vasotocin