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Live imaging early immune cell ontogeny and function in zebrafish Danio rerio

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The success of a robust vertebrate inflammatory response is in part because of the migratory potential of its haematopoietic components. Once these cells converge at an inflammatory site, they interact with each other as well as non-immune tissues and infectious agents to help manage both the scale and the duration of any ensuing response. Exactly how these blood cells, that constitute the innate and adaptive immune systems, contribute to such immune responses remain largely unknown. Traditionally, assessing these contributions relied upon histological analysis of fixed tissue sections complemented with in vitro dynamic data. Although informative, translating results from these studies into the multicellular whole-animal setting remain difficult. Recently, non-invasive live imaging of the immune system in animal models is providing significant insights into how immune cells function within their intact natural environment. Although the majority of these studies have been conducted within mice, another vertebrate, the zebrafish Danio rerio is being recognized as an ideal platform for non-invasive live imaging applications. The optical transparency, rapid development, genetic tractability and highly conserved innate and adaptive immune systems of this well-established developmental model have been exploited in a number of recent studies evaluating the immunocompetence of fluorescently tagged blood cells. In addition, similar live imaging studies are helping to dissect the ontogeny of blood-cell development by tracking various haematopoietic precursor cells to assess their contribution to different blood lineages. This review will examine some recent advances that have helped D. rerio emerge as a live imaging platform as well as its potential to offer valuable insights into the genetics behind diseases associated with immune cell dysfunction.
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Keywords: immunity; inflammation; live cell imaging; transgenic; wound healing; zebrafish

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology, School of Medical Sciences, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand

Publication date: 01 December 2008

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