Publications by authors named "Adelbert De Clercq"

8 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Bi-allelic premature truncating variants in LTBP1 cause cutis laxa syndrome.

Am J Hum Genet 2021 06 14;108(6):1095-1114. Epub 2021 May 14.

Center for Medical Genetics Ghent, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent 9000, Belgium; Department of Biomolecular Medicine, Ghent University, Ghent 9000, Belgium. Electronic address:

Latent transforming growth factor β (TGFβ)-binding proteins (LTBPs) are microfibril-associated proteins essential for anchoring TGFβ in the extracellular matrix (ECM) as well as for correct assembly of ECM components. Variants in LTBP2, LTBP3, and LTBP4 have been identified in several autosomal recessive Mendelian disorders with skeletal abnormalities with or without impaired development of elastin-rich tissues. Thus far, the human phenotype associated with LTBP1 deficiency has remained enigmatic. In this study, we report homozygous premature truncating LTBP1 variants in eight affected individuals from four unrelated consanguineous families. Affected individuals present with connective tissue features (cutis laxa and inguinal hernia), craniofacial dysmorphology, variable heart defects, and prominent skeletal features (craniosynostosis, short stature, brachydactyly, and syndactyly). In vitro studies on proband-derived dermal fibroblasts indicate distinct molecular mechanisms depending on the position of the variant in LTBP1. C-terminal variants lead to an altered LTBP1 loosely anchored in the microfibrillar network and cause increased ECM deposition in cultured fibroblasts associated with excessive TGFβ growth factor activation and signaling. In contrast, N-terminal truncation results in a loss of LTBP1 that does not alter TGFβ levels or ECM assembly. In vivo validation with two independent zebrafish lines carrying mutations in ltbp1 induce abnormal collagen fibrillogenesis in skin and intervertebral ligaments and ectopic bone formation on the vertebrae. In addition, one of the mutant zebrafish lines shows voluminous and hypo-mineralized vertebrae. Overall, our findings in humans and zebrafish show that LTBP1 function is crucial for skin and bone ECM assembly and homeostasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.04.016DOI Listing
June 2021

Lrp5 Mutant and Crispant Zebrafish Faithfully Model Human Osteoporosis, Establishing the Zebrafish as a Platform for CRISPR-Based Functional Screening of Osteoporosis Candidate Genes.

J Bone Miner Res 2021 May 6. Epub 2021 May 6.

Center for Medical Genetics Ghent, Department of Biomolecular Medicine, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Genomewide association studies (GWAS) have improved our understanding of the genetic architecture of common complex diseases such as osteoporosis. Nevertheless, to attribute functional skeletal contributions of candidate genes to osteoporosis-related traits, there is a need for efficient and cost-effective in vivo functional testing. This can be achieved through CRISPR-based reverse genetic screens, where phenotyping is traditionally performed in stable germline knockout (KO) mutants. Recently it was shown that first-generation (F0) mosaic mutant zebrafish (so-called crispants) recapitulate the phenotype of germline KOs. To demonstrate feasibility of functional validation of osteoporosis candidate genes through crispant screening, we compared a crispant to a stable KO zebrafish model for the lrp5 gene. In humans, recessive loss-of-function mutations in LRP5, a co-receptor in the Wnt signaling pathway, cause osteoporosis-pseudoglioma syndrome. In addition, several GWAS studies identified LRP5 as a major risk locus for osteoporosis-related phenotypes. In this study, we showed that early stage lrp5 KO larvae display decreased notochord mineralization and malformations of the head cartilage. Quantitative micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) scanning and mass-spectrometry element analysis of the adult skeleton revealed decreased vertebral bone volume and bone mineralization, hallmark features of osteoporosis. Furthermore, regenerating fin tissue displayed reduced Wnt signaling activity in lrp5 KO adults. We next compared lrp5 mutants with crispants. Next-generation sequencing analysis of adult crispant tissue revealed a mean out-of-frame mutation rate of 76%, resulting in strongly reduced levels of Lrp5 protein. These crispants generally showed a milder but nonetheless highly comparable skeletal phenotype and a similarly reduced Wnt pathway response compared with lrp5 KO mutants. In conclusion, we show through faithful modeling of LRP5-related primary osteoporosis that crispant screening in zebrafish is a promising approach for rapid functional screening of osteoporosis candidate genes. © 2021 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. © 2021 The Authors. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jbmr.4327DOI Listing
May 2021

The ZE-Tunnel: An Affordable, Easy-to-Assemble, and User-Friendly Benchtop Zebrafish Swim Tunnel.

Zebrafish 2021 Feb 12;18(1):29-41. Epub 2021 Jan 12.

Department of Biomolecular Medicine, Center of Medical Genetics, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

The popularity of zebrafish in both basic biological and biomedical research has led to an increased need for understanding their behavior. Locomotor behavior is an important outcome of different factors, such as specific genotypes or external stimuli that influence the nervous and musculoskeletal system. Locomotion can be studied by forced swimming in a swim tunnel, a device capable of generating a laminar water flow at different speeds in a chamber where zebrafish can be placed. However, commercially available swim tunnels are relatively expensive and in-house built systems are mostly presented without clear building instructions or proper validation procedures. In this study, we developed an alternative, cheap (<250 euro), and user-friendly, but customizable benchtop swim tunnel, called the "" (ZE-Tunnel). Detailed step-by-step instructions on how to construct the tunnel components, including the frame, mechanical, and electric components are given. The ZE-Tunnel was reliably used to exercise fish for prolonged periods and its performance was successfully validated by replicating previously published experiments on critical speed testing in zebrafish. Finally, implementation of behavioral video analysis using freely available motion-tracking software showed differences in swimming dynamics in the skeletal zebrafish mutant.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/zeb.2020.1948DOI Listing
February 2021

Knock-Out Zebrafish Recapitulate β3GalT6-Deficiency Disorders in Human and Reveal a Trisaccharide Proteoglycan Linkage Region.

Front Cell Dev Biol 2020 10;8:597857. Epub 2020 Dec 10.

Department of Biomolecular Medicine, Center for Medical Genetics Ghent, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Proteoglycans are structurally and functionally diverse biomacromolecules found abundantly on cell membranes and in the extracellular matrix. They consist of a core protein linked to glycosaminoglycan chains via a tetrasaccharide linkage region. Here, we show that CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knock-out zebrafish, lacking galactosyltransferase II, which adds the third sugar in the linkage region, largely recapitulate the phenotypic abnormalities seen in human β3GalT6-deficiency disorders. These comprise craniofacial dysmorphism, generalized skeletal dysplasia, skin involvement and indications for muscle hypotonia. In-depth TEM analysis revealed disturbed collagen fibril organization as the most consistent ultrastructural characteristic throughout different affected tissues. Strikingly, despite a strong reduction in glycosaminoglycan content, as demonstrated by anion-exchange HPLC, subsequent LC-MS/MS analysis revealed a small amount of proteoglycans containing a unique linkage region consisting of only three sugars. This implies that formation of glycosaminoglycans with an immature linkage region is possible in a pathogenic context. Our study, therefore unveils a novel rescue mechanism for proteoglycan production in the absence of galactosyltransferase II, hereby opening new avenues for therapeutic intervention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fcell.2020.597857DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7758351PMC
December 2020

Zebrafish: A Resourceful Vertebrate Model to Investigate Skeletal Disorders.

Front Endocrinol (Lausanne) 2020 31;11:489. Epub 2020 Jul 31.

Biochemistry Unit, Department of Molecular Medicine, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.

Animal models are essential tools for addressing fundamental scientific questions about skeletal diseases and for the development of new therapeutic approaches. Traditionally, mice have been the most common model organism in biomedical research, but their use is hampered by several limitations including complex generation, demanding investigation of early developmental stages, regulatory restrictions on breeding, and high maintenance cost. The zebrafish has been used as an efficient alternative vertebrate model for the study of human skeletal diseases, thanks to its easy genetic manipulation, high fecundity, external fertilization, transparency of rapidly developing embryos, and low maintenance cost. Furthermore, zebrafish share similar skeletal cells and ossification types with mammals. In the last decades, the use of both forward and new reverse genetics techniques has resulted in the generation of many mutant lines carrying skeletal phenotypes associated with human diseases. In addition, transgenic lines expressing fluorescent proteins under bone cell- or pathway- specific promoters enable imaging of differentiation and signaling at the cellular level. Despite the small size of the zebrafish, many traditional techniques for skeletal phenotyping, such as x-ray and microCT imaging and histological approaches, can be applied using the appropriate equipment and custom protocols. The ability of adult zebrafish to remodel skeletal tissues can be exploited as a unique tool to investigate bone formation and repair. Finally, the permeability of embryos to chemicals dissolved in water, together with the availability of large numbers of small-sized animals makes zebrafish a perfect model for high-throughput bone anabolic drug screening. This review aims to discuss the techniques that make zebrafish a powerful model to investigate the molecular and physiological basis of skeletal disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2020.00489DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7416647PMC
June 2021

Photoconvertible fluorescent proteins: a versatile tool in zebrafish skeletal imaging.

J Fish Biol 2021 Apr 8;98(4):1007-1017. Epub 2020 May 8.

Center of Medical Genetics, Department of Biomolecular Medicine, Ghent University-University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

One of the most frequently applied techniques in zebrafish (Danio rerio) research is the visualisation or manipulation of specific cell populations using transgenic reporter lines. The generation of these transgenic zebrafish, displaying cell- or tissue-specific expression of frequently used fluorophores such as Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) or mCherry, is relatively easy using modern techniques. Fluorophores with different emission wavelengths and driven by different promoters can be monitored simultaneously in the same animal. Photoconvertible fluorescent proteins (pcFPs) are different from these standard fluorophores because their emission spectrum is changed when exposed to UV light, a process called photoconversion. Here, the benefits and versatility of using pcFPs for both single and dual fluorochrome imaging in zebrafish skeletal research in a previously generated osx:Kaede transgenic line are illustrated. In this line, Kaede, which is expressed under control of the osterix, otherwise known as sp7, promoter thereby labelling immature osteoblasts, can switch from green to red fluorescence upon irradiation with UV light. First, this study demonstrates that osx:Kaede exhibits an expression pattern similar to a previously described osx:nuGFP transgenic line in both larval and adult stages, hereby validating the use of this line for the imaging of immature osteoblasts. More in-depth experiments highlight different applications for osx:Kaede, such as lineage tracing and its combined use with in vivo skeletal staining and other transgenic backgrounds. Mineral staining in combination with osx:Kaede confirms osteoblast-independent mineralisation of the notochord. Osteoblast lineage tracing reveals migration and dedifferentiation of scleroblasts during fin regeneration. Finally, this study shows that combining two transgenics, osx:Kaede and osc:GFP, with similar emission wavelengths is possible when using a pcFP such as Kaede.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jfb.14335DOI Listing
April 2021

Temperature sensitive regions of the Chinook salmon vertebral column: Vestiges and meristic variation.

J Morphol 2018 09 6;279(9):1301-1311. Epub 2018 Sep 6.

School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Variation of vertebral centra numbers is common in vertebrates. Likewise, the number of associated elements such as ribs and neural and haemal arches can vary and affect all regions of the vertebral column. In mammals, only the number of cervical vertebrae is invariable. Variation of total vertebral centra numbers is well documented in teleost fish, often related to temperature. Less information is available about which part of the vertebral column and which associated elements are liable to variation. Here, variation in number of vertebral centra and associated elements is studied in Chinook salmon in six distinct anatomical regions. Animals are raised at 8 and 12°C to ask whether the vertebral centrum numbers, the pattern, and the frequency of variation in particular regions are temperature dependent. No significant difference concerning the total number of vertebrae was found, but regional differences occurred between the 8 and 12°C groups. Twelve specimens out of 60 of the 12°C group had three postcranial vertebrae compared to only one specimen in the 8°C group. The number of transitional vertebrae is significantly different in 8 and 12°C specimens. Fewer transitional vertebrae occur in more anterior positions in 8°C specimens. Most specimens of both temperature groups had two ural centra; however 17 specimens out of 60 of the 12°C group had up to five ural centra. Specimens of the 12°C group show more variation in the presence of the vestigial ribs associated with transitional vertebrae. Clearly, the postcranial, transitional, and ural regions are temperature sensitive. This study shows that nonsignificant differences in the total number of vertebrae can mask significant regional variation. Variation of vertebral numbers could be the consequence of loss or gain of vertebral centra and/or a change in the identity of the associated element on the vertebral centrum.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jmor.20871DOI Listing
September 2018

Tooth replacement without a dental lamina: the search for epithelial stem cells in Polypterus senegalus.

J Exp Zool B Mol Dev Evol 2014 Jul 29;322(5):281-93. Epub 2014 May 29.

Evolutionary Developmental Biology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Most actinopterygians replace their teeth continuously throughout life. To address the question of where and how replacement teeth form in actinopterygians, it is advisable to investigate well-chosen representatives within the lineage. The African bichir, Polypterus senegalus, belongs to the earliest diverged group of the actinopterygian lineage with currently living representatives. Its well characterized dentition, together with its phylogenetic position, make this species an attractive model to answer following questions: (1) when and where does the replacement tooth form and how is it connected with the dental organ of the predecessor, and (2) is there any evidence for the presence of epithelial stem cells, hypothesized to play a role in replacement? Serial sections show that one tooth family can contain up to three members, which are all interconnected by dental epithelium. Replacement teeth develop without the presence of a successional dental lamina. We propose that this is the plesiomorphic condition for tooth replacement in actinopterygians. BrdU pulse-chase experiments reveal cells in the outer and middle dental epithelium, proliferating at the time of initiation of a new replacement tooth. It is tempting to assume that these cell layers provide a stem cell niche. The observed absence of label-retaining cells after long chase times (up to 8 weeks) is held against the light of divergent views on cell cycling properties of stem cells. At present, our data do not support, neither reject, the hypothesis on involvement of epithelial stem cells within the process of continuous tooth replacement.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jez.b.22577DOI Listing
July 2014