Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Applied Toxicology




diaminobutanoic acid, DABA, toxicity, zebrafish, cyanobacteria, GABA


(S)-2,4-Diaminobutanoic acid (DABA) is a noncanonical amino acid often co-produced by cyanobacteria along with β-N-methylamino-l-alanine (BMAA) in algal blooms. Although BMAA is a well-established neurotoxin, the toxicity of DABA remains unclear. As part of our development of biocompatible materials, we wish to make use of DABA as both a building block and as the end-product of enzymatically-induced depolymerization; however, if it is toxic at very low concentrations, this would not be possible. We examined the toxicity of DABA using both in vivo embryonic and adult zebrafish models. At higher sub-lethal concentrations (700 µM), the fish demonstrated early signs of cardiotoxicity. Adolescent zebrafish were able to tolerate a higher concentration. Post-mortem histological analysis of juvenile zebrafish showed no liver or brain abnormalities associated with hepato- or neurotoxicity. Combined, these results show that DABA exhibits no overt toxicity at concentrations (100-300 µM) within an order of magnitude of those envisioned for its application. This study further highlights the low-cost and ease of using zebrafish as an early-stage toxicological screening tool.

Funding Reference Number

NSERC, 2018-06338; NSERC, 312014-2009

Available for download on Saturday, October 17, 2020