Musashi (Msi) is an evolutionarily conserved gene family of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) that is preferentially expressed in the nervous system. The first member of the Msi family was identified in Drosophila. Drosophila Msi plays an important role in regulating asymmetric cell division of the sensory organ precursor cells. The mammalian orthologs, including human and mouse Musashi1 (Msi1), are neural RBPs that are strongly expressed in fetal and adult neural stem/progenitor cells (NS/PCs). Mammalian Msi1 contributes to self renewal of NS/PCs through translational regulation of several target mRNAs. In this study, the zebrafish Msi ortholog zMsi1 was identified and characterized. The normal spatial and temporal expression profiles for both protein and mRNA were determined. A series of splice variants were detected. Overall, zMsi1 was strongly expressed in neural tissue in early stages of development and exhibited similarity to mammalian Msi1 expression patterns. To reveal the in vivo function of zMsi1, morpholinos against Msi1 were introduced into one-cell stage zebrafish embryos. Knock down of zmsi1 frequently resulted in aberrant formation of the Central Nervous System (CNS). These results suggest that Msi1 plays roles in CNS development in vertebrates. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled RNA-Binding Proteins.
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