Generation of Knockout and Transgenic Zebrafish to Characterize Abcc4 Functions in Detoxification and Efflux of Lead

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Feb 19;22(4):2054. doi: 10.3390/ijms22042054.


Lead (Pb) is one of the major heavy metals that are toxic to vertebrates and usually considered as environmental pollutants. ABCC4/MRP4 is an organic anion transporter that mediates cellular efflux of a wide range of exogenous and endogenous compounds such as cyclic nucleotides and anti-cancer drugs; however, it remains unclear whether ABCC4 and its orthologs function in the detoxification and excretion of toxic lead. In this study, we found that the transcriptional and translational expression of zebrafish abcc4 was significantly induced under lead exposure in developing zebrafish embryos and adult tissues. Overexpression of zebrafish Abcc4 markedly decreased the cytotoxicity and accumulation of lead in pig renal proximal tubule cell line (LLC-PK1 cells). To further understand the functions of zebrafish Abcc4 in lead detoxification, the clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 system was used to create an abcc4-/- mutant zebrafish line. In comparison with the wild-type (WT) zebrafish, the abcc4-/- mutants showed a higher death rate and lead accumulation upon exposure to lead. Furthermore, a stable abcc4-transgenic zebrafish line was successfully generated, which exerted stronger ability to detoxify and excrete lead than WT zebrafish. These findings indicate that zebrafish Abcc4 plays a crucial role in lead detoxification and cellular efflux and could be used as a potential biomarker to monitor lead contamination in a water environment.

Keywords: Abcc4; detoxification; efflux transporter; knockout; lead; transgenesis; zebrafish.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Transport
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Knockout Techniques*
  • Inactivation, Metabolic
  • LLC-PK1 Cells
  • Lead / metabolism*
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Swine
  • Zebrafish / embryology
  • Zebrafish / genetics*
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics
  • Zebrafish Proteins / metabolism*


  • Abcc4 protein, zebrafish
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • Lead