Goal-directed behaviours may be poorly coordinated in young animals but, with age and experience, behaviour progressively adapts to efficiently exploit the animal's ecological niche. How experience impinges on the developing neural circuits of behaviour is an open question. We have conducted a detailed study of the effects of experience on the ontogeny of hunting behaviour in larval zebrafish. We report that larvae with prior experience of live prey consume considerably more prey than naive larvae. This is mainly due to increased capture success and a modest increase in hunt rate. We demonstrate that the initial turn to prey and the final capture manoeuvre of the hunting sequence were jointly modified by experience and that modification of these components predicted capture success. Our findings establish an ethologically relevant paradigm in zebrafish for studying how the brain is shaped by experience to drive the ontogeny of efficient behaviour.
All data analyzed during this study are included in the supporting github repository.
- Konstantinos Lagogiannis
- Giovanni Diana
- Martin P Meyer
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: This work was approved by the local Animal Care and Use Committee (King's College London) and was performed in accordance with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986, under license from the United Kingdom Home Office Licence number P9090AEFD. All primary data included in the manuscript came from the use of zebrafish larvae. All procedures were non-invasive and classified as mild according to the Animals Act 1986 and as defined by the United Kingdom Home Office, in order to minimize animal suffering. At the end of regulated procedures, animals were culled using a schedule 1 method (terminal dose of MS222).
- Yuichi Iino, University of Tokyo, Japan
© 2020, Lagogiannis et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Embryonic diapause is a reproductive strategy in which embryo development and growth is temporarily arrested within the uterus to ensure the survival of neonates and mothers during unfavorable conditions. Pregnancy is reinitiated when conditions become favorable for neonatal survival. The mechanism of how the uterus enters diapause in various species remains unclear. Mice with uterine depletion of Foxa2, a transcription factor, are infertile. In this study, we show that dormant blastocysts are recovered from these mice on day 8 of pregnancy with persistent expression of uterine Msx1, a gene critical to maintaining the uterine quiescent state, suggesting that these mice enter embryonic diapause. Leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) can resume implantation in these mice. Although estrogen is critical for implantation in progesterone-primed uterus, our current model reveals that FOXA2-independent estrogenic effects are detrimental to sustaining uterine quiescence. Interestingly, progesterone and anti-estrogen can prolong uterine quiescence in the absence of FOXA2. Although we find that Msx1 expression persists in the uterus deficient in Foxa2, the complex relationship of FOXA2 with Msx genes and estrogen receptors remains to be explored.
Maternally synthesized products play critical roles in the development of offspring. A premier example is the Caenorhabditis elegans H3K36 methyltransferase MES-4, which is essential for germline survival and development in offspring. How maternal MES-4 protects the germline is not well understood, but its role in H3K36 methylation hinted that it may regulate gene expression in primordial germ cells (PGCs). We tested this hypothesis by profiling transcripts from nascent germlines (PGCs and their descendants) dissected from wild-type and mes-4 mutant (lacking maternal and zygotic MES-4) larvae. mes-4 nascent germlines displayed downregulation of some germline genes, upregulation of some somatic genes, and dramatic upregulation of hundreds of genes on the X chromosome. We demonstrated that upregulation of one or more genes on the X is the cause of germline death by generating and analyzing mes-4 mutants that inherited different endowments of X chromosome(s). Intriguingly, removal of the THAP transcription factor LIN-15B from mes-4 mutants reduced X misexpression and prevented germline death. lin-15B is X-linked and misexpressed in mes-4 PGCs, identifying it as a critical target for MES-4 repression. The above findings extend to the H3K27 methyltransferase MES-2/3/6, the C. elegans version of polycomb repressive complex 2. We propose that maternal MES-4 and PRC2 cooperate to protect germline survival by preventing synthesis of germline-toxic products encoded by genes on the X chromosome, including the key transcription factor LIN-15B.