Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Genetic basis of thiaminase I activity in a vertebrate, zebrafish Danio rerio

January 13, 2023

Thiamine (vitamin B1) metabolism is an important driver of human and animal health and ecological functioning. Some organisms, including species of ferns, mollusks, and fish, contain thiamine-degrading enzymes known as thiaminases, and consumption of these organisms can lead to thiamine deficiency in the consumer. Consumption of fish containing thiaminase has led to elevated mortality and recruitment failure in farmed animals and wild salmonine populations around the world. In the North American Great Lakes, consumption of the non-native prey fish alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) by native lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) led to thiamine deficiency in the trout, contributed to elevated fry mortality, and impeded natural population recruitment. Several thiaminases have been genetically characterized in bacteria and unicellular eukaryotes, and the source of thiaminase in multicellular organisms has been hypothesized to be gut microflora. In an unexpected discovery, we identified thiaminase I genes in zebrafish (Danio rerio) with homology to bacterial tenA thiaminase II. The biochemical activity of zebrafish thiaminase I (GenBank NP_001314821.1) was confirmed in a recombinant system. Genes homologous to the zebrafish tenA-like thiaminase I were identified in many animals, including common carp (Cyprinus carpio), zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) and alewife. Thus, the source of thiaminase I in alewife impacting lake trout populations is likely to be de novo synthesis.

Publication Year 2023
Title Genetic basis of thiaminase I activity in a vertebrate, zebrafish Danio rerio
DOI 10.1038/s41598-023-27612-5
Authors Cathy A. Richter, Allison N. Evans, Scott A. Heppell, James L. Zajicek, Donald E. Tillitt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Scientific Reports
Index ID 70240158
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center