Abstract:Tumorigenesis requires inactivation of the p53 tumor suppressor pathway, likely involving the negative regulator Mdm2 protein. To analyze the possible roles of Mdm2 in oncogenesis and other functions during zebrafish hepatogenesis, we generated transgenic zebrafish by liver-specific Mdm2 over-expression utilizing a fusion between genes encoding GFP and mdm2, GFP::Mdm2. Over-expression of GFP::Mdm2 in the zebrafish liver did not interrupt normal liver development in the larval stages but approximately 30% of the adult fish raised from the same larvae displayed obvious growth retardation at 16 weeks of age. Most growth-retarded adults displayed liver atrophy, contraction, or hypoplasia, which proved lethal within 4 to 8 months. Histologically, over-expression of GFP::Mdm2 in Gmdm2-liver leading to liver degeneration may in some way have been due to an increased cell apoptosis accompanied by a slightly interrupted cell cycle or hepatocyte proliferation. Liver degeneration or other transgenic phenotypes were not associated with liver cancer; however, liver-degenerated phenotypes could be passed to wild-type zebrafish. In this study, we generated transgenic zebrafish lines with a “fragile liver.” The “fragile liver” zebrafish can provide a model for molecular pathology of liver diseases and for screening small molecules that affect mdm2-related pathways.