During the past few decades, zebrafish (Danio rerio) have been a workhorse for developmental biology and genetics. Concurrently, zebrafish have proved highly accessible and effective for translational research by providing a vertebrate animal model useful for gene discovery, disease modeling, chemical genetic screening, and other medically relevant studies. Key resources such as an annotated and complete genome sequence, and diverse tools for genetic manipulation continue to spur broad use of zebrafish. Thus, the purpose of this introductory review is to provide a window into the unique characteristics and diverse uses of zebrafish and to highlight in particular the increasing relevance of zebrafish as a translational animal model. This is accomplished by reviewing broad considerations of anatomic and physiological conservation, approaches for disease modeling and creation, general laboratory methods, genetic tools, genome conservation, and diverse opportunities for functional validation. Additional commentary throughout the review also guides the reader to the 4 new reviews found elsewhere in this special issue that showcase the many unique ways the zebrafish is improving understanding of renal regeneration, mitochondrial disease, dyslipidemia, and aging, for example. With many other possible approaches and a rapidly increasing number of medically relevant reports, zebrafish approaches enhance significantly the tools available for translational research and are actively improving the understanding of human disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Biochemistry, medical
- Physiology (medical)