Effects of cadmium, manganese, and lead on locomotor activity and neurexin 2a expression in zebrafish


The synaptic adhesion protein Neurexin 2a (Nrxn2a) plays a key role in neuronal development and is associated with cognitive functioning and locomotor behavior. Although low-level metal exposure poses a potential risk to the human nervous system, especially during the developmental stages, little is known about the effects of metal exposures on nrxn2a expression during embryonic development. We therefore exposed wild-type zebrafish embryos/larvae to cadmium (CdCl2), manganese (MnCl2), and lead ([CH3COO]2Pb), to determine their effect on mortality, malformation, and hatching rate. Concentrations of these metals in zebrafish were detected by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry analysis. Locomotor activity of zebrafish larvae was analyzed using a video-track tracking system. Expression of nrxn2a was assessed by in situ hybridization and quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The results showed that mortality, malformation, and bioaccumulation increased as the exposure dosages and duration increased. Developmental exposure to these metals significantly reduced larval swim distance and velocity. The nrxn2aa and nrxn2ab genes were expressed in the central nervous system and downregulated by almost all of the 3 metals, especially Pb. These data demonstrate that exposure to metals downregulates nrxn2a in the zebrafish model system, and this is likely linked to concurrent developmental processes.