Overexpression of Spexin 1 in the Dorsal Habenula Reduces Anxiety in Zebrafish

Inyoung Jeong, Eunmi Kim, Jae Young Seong, Hae Chul Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Spexin (SPX) is an evolutionarily conserved neuropeptide that is expressed in the mammalian brain and peripheral tissue. Two orthologs are present in the teleost, SPX1 and SPX2. SPX1 is involved in reproduction and food intake. Recently, SPX1 neurons have been found to be located in the specific nuclei of dorsal habenula (dHb) and to project into the interpeduncular nucleus (IPN), in which galanin receptor 2a/2b (GALR2a/2b) expression was also observed. This indicates that habenula SPX1 neurons may interact with GALR2a/2b in the IPN; however, the function of SPX1 in the dHb-IPN neuronal circuit remains unknown. To determine the role of SPX1 in the dHb-IPN neural circuit, we generated transgenic zebrafish overexpressing SPX1 specifically in the dHb. We found that transgenic zebrafish overexpressing SPX1 in the dHb had anxiolytic behaviors compared with their wildtype siblings. Furthermore, quantitative PCR revealed that mRNA expression of galr2a and galr2b in the IPN and serotonin-related genes in the raphe was upregulated in the brains of transgenic zebrafish. Taken together, our data suggest that SPX1 function in the dHb-IPN neural circuits is implicated in the regulation of anxiety behaviors via modulation of the serotoninergic system in zebrafish.

Original languageEnglish
Article number53
JournalFrontiers in neural circuits
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Aug 14

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding. This work was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2016R1D1A1B03935123) and by the Collaborative Genome Program of the Korea Institute of Marine Science and Technology Promotion (KIMST) funded by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF; No. 20180430).

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2019 Jeong, Kim, Seong and Park.


  • anxiety
  • dorsal habenula
  • serotonergic system
  • spexin 1
  • zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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