fmr1 Mutation Alters the Early Development of Sensory Coding and Hunting and Social Behaviors in Larval Zebrafish

Shuyu I. Zhu, Michael H. McCullough, Zac Pujic, Jordan Sibberas, Biao Sun, Thomas Darveniza, Bianca Bucknall, Lilach Avitan, Geoffrey J. Goodhill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are developmental in origin; however, little is known about how they affect the early development of behavior and sensory coding. The most common inherited form of autism is Fragile X syndrome (FXS), caused by a mutation in FMR1. Mutation of fmr1 in zebrafish causes anxiety-like behavior, hyperactivity, and hypersensitivity in auditory and visual processing. Here, we show that zebrafish fmr1-/- mutant larvae of either sex also display changes in hunting behavior, tectal coding, and social interaction. During hunting, they were less successful at catching prey and displayed altered behavioral sequences. In the tectum, representations of prey-like stimuli were more diffuse and had higher dimensionality. In a social behavioral assay, they spent more time observing a conspecific but responded more slowly to social cues. However, when given a choice of rearing environment fmr1-/- larvae preferred one with reduced visual stimulation, and rearing them in this environment reduced genotype-specific effects on tectal excitability. Together, these results shed new light on how fmr1-/- changes the early development of neural systems and behavior in a vertebrate.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1211-1224
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number7
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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  • behavior
  • environmental enrichment
  • neural assemblies
  • optic tectum


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