The multiple effects of MAO on fish brains.
An Astyanax mexicanus mao knockout line uncovers the developmental roles of monoamine homeostasis in fish brain. Monoaminergic systems are conserved in vertebrates, yet they present variations in neuroanatomy, genetic components and functions across species. MonoAmine Oxidase, or MAO, is the enzyme responsible for monoamine degradation. While mammals possess two genes, MAO-A and MAO-B, fish possess one single mao gene. To study the function of MAO and monoamine homeostasis on fish brain development and physiology, here we have generated a mao knockout line in Astyanax mexicanus (surface fish), by CRISPR/Cas9 technology. Homozygote mao knockout larvae died at 13 days post-fertilization.
Through a time-course analysis, we report that hypothalamic serotonergic neurons undergo fine and dynamic regulation of serotonin level upon loss of mao function, in contrast to those in the raphe, which showed continuously increased serotonin levels – as expected. Dopaminergic neurons were not affected by mao loss-of-function. At behavioral level, knockout fry showed a transient decrease in locomotion that followed the variations in the hypothalamus serotonin neuronal levels.
Finally, we discovered a drastic effect of mao knockout on brain progenitors proliferation in the telencephalon and hypothalamus, including a reduction in the number of proliferative cells and an increase of the cell cycle length. Altogether, our results show that MAO has multiple and varied effects on Astyanax mexicanus brain development. Mostly, they bring novel support to the idea that serotonergic neurons in the hypothalamus and raphe of the fish brain are different in nature and identity, and they unravel a link between monoaminergic homeostasis and brain growth.