Mutat Res 2009 Jul 3;668(1-2):117-32. Epub 2008 Dec 3.
Institute of Neuroscience, University of Oregon, 1425 E. 13th Avenue, Eugene, OR 97403, USA.
Fanconi anemia (FA) is a genetic disease resulting in bone marrow failure, high cancer risks, and infertility, and developmental anomalies including microphthalmia, microcephaly, hypoplastic radius and thumb. Here we present cDNA sequences, genetic mapping, and genomic analyses for the four previously undescribed zebrafish FA genes (fanci, fancj, fancm, and fancn), and show that they reverted to single copy after the teleost genome duplication. We tested the hypothesis that FA genes are expressed during embryonic development in tissues that are disrupted in human patients by investigating fanc gene expression patterns. We found fanc gene maternal message, which can provide Fanc proteins to repair DNA damage encountered in rapid cleavage divisions. Zygotic expression was broad but especially strong in eyes, central nervous system and hematopoietic tissues. In the pectoral fin bud at hatching, fanc genes were expressed specifically in the apical ectodermal ridge, a signaling center for fin/limb development that may be relevant to the radius/thumb anomaly of FA patients. Hatching embryos expressed fanc genes strongly in the oral epithelium, a site of squamous cell carcinomas in FA patients. Larval and adult zebrafish expressed fanc genes in proliferative regions of the brain, which may be related to microcephaly in FA. Mature ovaries and testes expressed fanc genes in specific stages of oocyte and spermatocyte development, which may be related to DNA repair during homologous recombination in meiosis and to infertility in human patients. The intestine strongly expressed some fanc genes specifically in proliferative zones. Our results show that zebrafish has a complete complement of fanc genes in single copy and that these genes are expressed in zebrafish embryos and adults in proliferative tissues that are often affected in FA patients. These results support the notion that zebrafish offers an attractive experimental system to help unravel mechanisms relevant not only to FA, but also to breast cancer, given the involvement of fancj (brip1), fancn (palb2) and fancd1 (brca2) in both conditions.