Omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) play critical roles in membrane stability and cell signaling within the retina. ELOVL2 (Elongation of Very Long Chain Fatty Acids-Like 2), an elongase involved in the synthesis of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs), has recently been implicated in regulating aging in the mammalian retina. In this work, we characterize the expression and function of elovl2 in the retina development in embryonic zebrafish. Whole mount in situ hybridization shows elovl2 is expressed in the Muller glia in embryonic and adult zebrafish. Lipidomics analysis of elovl2 crispants whole embryos at day 2 and eyes at day 7 demonstrated significant changes in lipids composition, especially on the level of lipids containing docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Histological analysis of zebrafish lacking elovl2 revealed increased retinal thickness compared to controls at day 7 without gross disruptions of the retinal architecture. Finally, elovl2 crispants showed differences in the visual motor reflex light off (VMR-OFF) at day 7 compared to controls. In sum, inactivation of elovl2 in zebrafish embryos caused changes in lipid composition and in visual behavior, further confirming the important role of LC-PUFAs in healthy vision.
Keywords: ELOVL2 (Elongation of Very Long Chain Fatty Acids-Like 2); Muller glia; polyunsaturated fatty acids; vision.