Skeletal malformations of Meox1-deficient zebrafish resemble human Klippel–Feil syndrome

Mervyn V. P. Dauer, Peter D. Currie, Joachim Berger

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Klippel–Feil syndrome is a congenital vertebral anomaly, which is characterised by the fusion of at least two cervical vertebrae and a clinically broad set of symptoms, including congenital scoliosis and elevated scapula (Sprengel's deformity). Klippel–Feil syndrome is associated with mutations in MEOX1. The zebrafish mutant choker (cho) carries a mutation in its orthologue, meox1. Although zebrafish is being increasingly employed as fidelitous models of human spinal disease, the vertebral column of Meox1-deficient fish has not been assessed for defects. Here, we describe the skeletal defects of meox1cho mutant zebrafish utilising alizarin red to stain bones and chemical maceration of soft tissue to detect fusions in an unbiased manner. Obtained data reveal that meox1cho mutants feature aspects of a number of described symptoms of patients who suffer from Klippel–Feil syndrome and have mutations in MEOX1. These include vertebral fusion, congenital scoliosis and an asymmetry of the pectoral girdle, which resembles Sprengel's deformity. Thus, the meox1cho mutant zebrafish may serve as a useful tool to study the pathogenesis of the symptoms associated with Klippel–Feil syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-695
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • disease modelling
  • Klippel–Feil syndrome
  • MEOX1
  • mesenchyme homeobox 1
  • spinal disease
  • zebrafish

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