Nicotine response genetics in the zebrafish

Andrew M. Petzold, Darius Balciunas, Sridhar Sivasubbu, Karl J. Clark, Victoria M. Bedell, Stephanie E. Westcot, Shelly R. Myers, Gary L. Moulder, Mark J. Thomas, Stephen C. Ekker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Tobacco use is predicted to result in over 1 billion deaths worldwide by the end of the 21st century. How genetic variation contributes to the observed differential predisposition in the human population to drug dependence is unknown. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is an emerging vertebrate model system for understanding the genetics of behavior. We developed a nicotine behavioral assay in zebrafish and applied it in a forward genetic screen using gene-breaking transposon mutagenesis. We used this method to molecularly characterize bdav/ cct8 and hbog/gabbr1.2 as mutations with altered nicotine response. Each have a single human ortholog, identifying two points for potential scientific, diagnostic, and drug development for nicotine biology and cessation therapeutics. We show this insertional method generates mutant alleles that are reversible through Cre-mediated recombination, representing a conditional mutation system for the zebrafish. The combination of this reporter-tagged insertional mutagen approach and zebrafish provides a powerful platform for a rich array of questions amenable to genetic-based scientific inquiry, including the basis of behavior, epigenetics, plasticity, stress, memory, and learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18662-18667
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number44
StatePublished - Nov 3 2009


  • Addiction
  • Behavior


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