Research Highlight

Nicotine addiction in genes

doi:10.1038/nindia.2009.319 Published online 27 October 2009

Two new genes identified in zebrafish might hold the clue to nicotine addiction in humans1. The finding points to a potential drug target for nicotine deaddiction.

Working on a vertebrate model — zebrafish (Danio rerio) — the researchers developed a nicotine behavioral assay and applied it using a new genetic mutation technique — gene-breaking transposon mutagenesis.

They used this method to molecularly characterise two mutations with altered nicotine response. Each of these mutations has a single human ortholog, making them two points for potential scientific, diagnostic, and drug development for nicotine biology and cessation therapeutics.

The new tool could be used to identify genetic mutations responsible for many other diseases.


  1. Petzolda, A. M. et al. Nicotine response genetics in the zebrafish. P. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 106, 18662-18667 (2009)