Behavioral screening for neuroactive drugs in zebrafish

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The larval zebrafish has emerged as a vertebrate model system amenable to small molecule screens for probing diverse biological pathways. Two large-scale small molecule screens examined the effects of thousands of drugs on larval zebrafish sleep/wake and photomotor response behaviors. Both screens identified hundreds of molecules that altered zebrafish behavior in distinct ways. The behavioral profiles induced by these small molecules enabled the clustering of compounds according to shared phenotypes. This approach identified regulators of sleep/wake behavior and revealed the biological targets for poorly characterized compounds. Behavioral screening for neuroactive small molecules in zebrafish is an attractive complement toin vitroscreening efforts, because the complex interactions in the vertebrate brain can only be revealedin vivo.

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