Manipulation of Gene Function in Mexican Cavefish. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cave animals provide a compelling system for investigating the evolutionary mechanisms and genetic bases underlying changes in numerous complex traits, including eye degeneration, albinism, sleep loss, hyperphagia, and sensory processing. Species of cavefish from around the world display a convergent evolution of morphological and behavioral traits due to shared environmental pressures between different cave systems. Diverse cave species have been studied in the laboratory setting. The Mexican tetra, Astyanax mexicanus, with sighted and blind forms, has provided unique insights into biological and molecular processes underlying the evolution of complex traits and is well-poised as an emerging model system. While candidate genes regulating the evolution of diverse biological processes have been identified in A. mexicanus, the ability to validate a role for individual genes has been limited. The application of transgenesis and gene-editing technology has the potential to overcome this significant impediment and to investigate the mechanisms underlying the evolution of complex traits. Here, we describe a different methodology for manipulating gene expression in A. mexicanus. Approaches include the use of morpholinos, Tol2 transgenesis, and gene-editing systems, commonly used in zebrafish and other fish models, to manipulate gene function in A. mexicanus. These protocols include detailed descriptions of timed breeding procedures, the collection of fertilized eggs, injections, and the selection of genetically modified animals. These methodological approaches will allow for the investigation of the genetic and neural mechanisms underlying the evolution of diverse traits in A. mexicanus.

published proceedings

  • J Vis Exp

altmetric score

  • 8.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Stahl, B. A., Jaggard, J. B., Chin, J., Kowalko, J. E., Keene, A. C., & Dubou, E. R.

citation count

  • 32

complete list of authors

  • Stahl, Bethany A||Jaggard, James B||Chin, Jacqueline SR||Kowalko, Johanna E||Keene, Alex C||DubouĂ©, Erik R

publication date

  • April 2019