In larval zebrafish, melanocyte stem cells (MSCs) are quiescent, but can be recruited to regenerate the larval pigment pattern following melanocyte ablation. Through pharmacological experiments, we found that inhibition of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-A receptor function, specifically the GABA-A ρ subtype, induces excessive melanocyte production in larval zebrafish. Conversely, pharmacological activation of GABA-A inhibited melanocyte regeneration. We used clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/Cas9 to generate two mutant alleles of gabrr1, a subtype of GABA-A receptors. Both alleles exhibited robust melanocyte overproduction, while conditional overexpression of gabrr1 inhibited larval melanocyte regeneration. Our data suggest that gabrr1 signaling is necessary to maintain MSC quiescence and sufficient to reduce, but not eliminate, melanocyte regeneration in larval zebrafish.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-566
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019


  • GABA
  • GABA-A receptors
  • Inhibition
  • Melanocyte
  • Pigmentation
  • Quiescence
  • Zebrafish


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