Machine learning discriminates a movement disorder in a zebrafish model of Parkinson's disease

Gideon L. Hughes, Michael Adam Lones, Matthew Bedder, Peter D. Currie, Stephen L. Smith, Mary E. Pownall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (SciVal)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Animal models of human disease provide an in vivo system that can reveal molecular mechanisms by which mutations cause pathology, and, moreover, have the potential to provide a valuable tool for drug development. Here, we have developed a zebrafish model of Parkinson's disease (PD) together with a novel method to screen for movement disorders in adult fish, pioneering a more efficient drug-testing route. Mutation of the PARK7 gene (which encodes DJ-1) is known to cause monogenic autosomal recessive PD in humans, and, using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, we generated a Dj-1 loss-of-function zebrafish with molecular hallmarks of PD. To establish whether there is a human-relevant parkinsonian phenotype in our model, we adapted proven tools used to diagnose PD in clinics and developed a novel and unbiased computational method to classify movement disorders in adult zebrafish. Using high-resolution video capture and machine learning, we extracted novel features of movement from continuous data streams and used an evolutionary algorithm to classify parkinsonian fish. This method will be widely applicable for assessing zebrafish models of human motor diseases and provide a valuable asset for the therapeutics pipeline. In addition, interrogation of RNA-seq data indicate metabolic reprogramming of brains in the absence of Dj-1, adding to growing evidence that disruption of bioenergetics is a key feature of neurodegeneration.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdmm045815
JournalDisease Models and Mechanisms
Issue number10
Early online date28 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2020


  • Artificial intelligence
  • DJ-1
  • Gene targeting
  • PARK7
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Video capture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Immunology and Microbiology (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Machine learning discriminates a movement disorder in a zebrafish model of Parkinson's disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this