Loss of fibrinogen in zebrafish results in an asymptomatic embryonic hemostatic defect and synthetic lethality with thrombocytopenia.
Hu Z., Lavik KI., Liu Y., Vo AH., Richter CE., Di Paola J., Shavit JA.
Essentials Loss of fibrinogen in zebrafish has been previously shown to result in adult onset hemorrhage Hemostatic defects were discovered in early fga-/- embryos but well tolerated until adulthood Afibrinogenemia and thrombocytopenia results in synthetic lethality in zebrafish. Testing human FGA variants of uncertain significance in zebrafish identified causative mutations SUMMARY: Background Mutations in the alpha chain of fibrinogen (FGA), such as deficiencies in other fibrinogen subunits, lead to rare inherited autosomal recessive hemostatic disorders. These range from asymptomatic to catastrophic life-threatening bleeds and the molecular basis of inherited fibrinogen deficiencies is only partially understood. Zinc finger nucleases have been used to produce mutations in zebrafish fga, resulting in overt adult-onset hemorrhage and reduced survival. Objectives To determine the age of onset of hemostatic defects in afibrinogenemic zebrafish and model human fibrinogen deficiencies. Methods TALEN genome editing (transcription activator-like effector nucleases) was used to generate a zebrafish fga mutant. Hemostatic defects were assessed through survival, gross anatomical and histological observation and laser-induced endothelial injury. Human FGA variants with unknown pathologies were engineered into the orthologous positions in zebrafish fga. Results Loss of Fga decreased survival and resulted in synthetic lethality when combined with thrombocytopenia. Zebrafish fga mutants exhibit a severe hemostatic defect by 3 days of life, but without visible hemorrhage. Induced thrombus formation through venous endothelial injury was completely absent in mutant embryos and larvae. This hemostatic defect was restored by microinjection of wild-type fga cDNA plasmid or purified human fibrinogen. This system was used to determine whether unknown human variants were pathological by engineering them into fga. Conclusions These studies confirm that loss of fibrinogen in zebrafish results in the absence of hemostasis from the embryonic period through adulthood. When combined with thrombocytopenia, zebrafish exhibit synthetic lethality, demonstrating that thrombocytes are necessary for survival in response to hemorrhage.