Imprinting on kin occurs during the sixth day of larval development in zebrafish and depends on olfactory signals. In rodents, the immediate early gene egr1 is involved in maintaining the dopaminergic phenotype of periglomerular olfactory bulb cells in an activity dependent way. Furthermore, egr1 is upregulated in medial amygdalar dopamine cells in some rodents (prairie voles) dependent on social pheromone interactions. Thus, we aimed to investigate whether egr1 is involved in imprinting processes and later kin recognition in zebrafish in olfactory centers, such as the olfactory bulb and suspected medial amygdala. In the present paper, we focus on a basic investigation of basal egr1 expression throughout zebrafish brain development and its co-localization with tyrosine hydroxylase as a marker for dopaminergic neurons. Indeed, there is unambiguous co-localization of egr1 and tyrosine hydroxylase in the zebrafish olfactory bulb and hypothetical medial amygdala. Furthermore, as in rodents, ipsilateral transient olfactory deprivation through Triton X-100 treatment of the olfactory epithelium leads to downregulation of egr1 and tyrosine hydroxylase expression in the olfactory bulb, but apparently not in secondary olfactory targets of the zebrafish brain. This indicates that similar processes might be at work in zebrafish and rodent olfactory systems, but their more specific involvement in imprinting in zebrafish has to be further tested.
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