Danio rerio Fishing for Knowledge

The zebrafish, Danio rerio, is a teleost fish and belongs to the family Cyprinidae. Being vertebrates, zebrafish are evolutionarily closer to humans than nematodes and fruit flies. Its well-developed adaptive and innate cellular immune system makes the zebrafish an ideal model for the study of infectious diseases. Danio has immunoglobulins, antigen-processing cells, T cells, B cells, phagocytic cells, and leukocytes capable of producing reactive species of oxygen and nitrogen. In addition, cytokines, complement, lectins, and Toll-like receptors have been identified. The ongoing genomic sequencing (http://www.sanger.ac.uk/Projects/D_rerio) and expressed sequence tag projects have identified a high number of orthologues to human genes (http://www.zfin.org). Experimental infections are usually introduced by incubation in media containing the bacteria or by microinjections. Infection of zebrafish with Streptococcus iniae, a natural fish pathogen, or S. pyogenes, a human pathogen, reproduces many features of human infection caused by a variety of streptococcal pathogens [56, 57]. Zebrafish embryos and larvae have also been exploited to examine Mycobacterium and Salmonella pathogenesis. This has already provided new insight into tuberculous granuloma formation and pathogenic effects of LPS, respectively. Unlike other vertebrate infection models, the transparent zebrafish embryos allow real-time monitoring in live animals.

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