Thyroid development in zebrafish lacking Taz

Andrea Pappalardo, Immacolata Porreca, Luigi Caputi, Elena De Felice, Stephan Schulte-Merker, Mariastella Zannini, Paolo Sordino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Taz is a signal-responsive transcriptional coregulator implicated in several biological functions, from chondrogenesis to regulation of organ size. Less well studied, however, is its role in thyroid formation. Here, we explored the in vivo effects on thyroid development of morpholino (MO)-mediated knockdown of wwtr1, the gene encoding zebrafish Taz. The wwtr1 gene is expressed in the thyroid primordium and pharyngeal tissue of developing zebrafish. Compared to mammalian cells, in which Taz promotes expression of thyroid transcription factors and thyroid differentiation genes, wwtr1 MO injection in zebrafish had little or no effect on the expression of thyroid transcription factors, and differentially altered the expression of thyroid differentiation genes. Analysis of wwtr1 morphants at later stages of development revealed that the number and the lumen of thyroid follicles, and the number of thyroid follicle cells, were significantly smaller. In addition, Taz-depleted larvae displayed patterning defects in ventral cranial vessels that correlate with lateral displacement of thyroid follicles. These findings indicate that the zebrafish Taz protein is needed for the normal differentiation of the thyroid and are the first to suggest that Taz confers growth advantage to the endocrine gland.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-278
Number of pages11
JournalMechanisms of Development
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Follicle
  • Organ size
  • Taz
  • Thyroid
  • Wwtr1
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Embryology

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    Pappalardo, A., Porreca, I., Caputi, L., De Felice, E., Schulte-Merker, S., Zannini, M., & Sordino, P. (2015). Thyroid development in zebrafish lacking Taz. Mechanisms of Development, 138, 268-278.