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Nature biotechnology DOI:10.1038/nbt963

Chemical suppression of a genetic mutation in a zebrafish model of aortic coarctation.

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsPeterson, RT, Shaw, SY, Peterson, TA, Milan, DJ, Zhong, TP, Schreiber, SL, Macrae, CA, Fishman, MC
JournalNature biotechnology
Date Published2004/05/01

Conventional drug discovery approaches require a priori selection of an appropriate molecular target, but it is often not obvious which biological pathways must be targeted to reverse a disease phenotype. Phenotype-based screens offer the potential to identify pathways and potential therapies that influence disease processes. The zebrafish mutation gridlock (grl, affecting the gene hey2) disrupts aortic blood flow in a region and physiological manner akin to aortic coarctation in humans. Here we use a whole-organism, phenotype-based, small-molecule screen to discover a class of compounds that suppress the coarctation phenotype and permit survival to adulthood. These compounds function during the specification and migration of angioblasts. They act to upregulate expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and the activation of the VEGF pathway is sufficient to suppress the gridlock phenotype. Thus, organism-based screens allow the discovery of small molecules that ameliorate complex dysmorphic syndromes even without targeting the affected gene directly.