Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 10-2020


Smoking is one of the main causes of preventable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Helping people quit using nicotine products is a main goal of our projects. Developing a zebrafish model for nicotine use behavior could provide a tool for studying the underlying genetic risks and neuronal elements of nicotine use behavior. The availability of large numbers of larval zebrafish, relatively short generation time and genetic tools present a major advantage for studying the genetic causes of nicotine use behavior. Here, we present our approach to test whether identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with smoking behavior in humans have SNP homologs in nicotine-seeking zebrafish. Our major focus has been on genes that appear to increase the risk for nicotine-use behavior in humans. A zebrafish behavioral test allows us to separate nicotine-seeking from non-seeking larval zebrafish. Fin or scale tissue can be used to isolate genomic DNA. We have developed tools and protocols to detect SNPs in zebrafish genes for acetylcholine receptors type alpha 3, alpha 5, as well as nol4b2, opiate receptor oprm1 and the zebrafish homolog to human cytochrome P450 2A6 (CYP2A6). The genetic analysis of nicotine-seeking zebrafish could lead to the identification of genes and gene modifications that facilitate nicotine-use behavior.


  • Emma Kennedy; Aziza Shemet Pitcher; Sabrina Krause; Autumn McDaniel; Molly Ruggles; Henning Schneider, PhD

  • Department of Biology, DePauw University, Greencastle, IN

  • Supported by: DePauw University, Arthur Vining Davis Foundation

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