Bennett, C.M., Kanki, J.P., Rhodes, J., Liu, T.X., Paw, B.H., Kieran, M.W., Langenau, D.M., Delahaye-Brown, A., Zon, L.I., Fleming, M.D., and Look, A.T. (2001) Myelopoiesis in the zebrafish, Danio rerio. Blood. 98(3):643-651.
Genome-wide chemical mutagenesis screens in the zebrafish (Danio rerio) have led to the identification of novel genes affecting vertebrate erythropoiesis. In determining if this approach could also be used to clarify the molecular genetics of myelopoiesis, it was found that the developmental hierarchy of myeloid precursors in the zebrafish kidney is similar to that in human bone marrow. Zebrafish neutrophils resembled human neutrophils, possessing segmented nuclei and myeloperoxidase-positive cytoplasmic granules. The zebrafish homologue of the human myeloperoxidase (MPO) gene, which is specific to cells of the neutrophil lineage, was cloned and used to synthesize antisense RNA probes for in situ hybridization analyses of zebrafish embryos. Granulocytic cells expressing zebrafish mpo were first evident at 18 hours after fertilization (hpf) in the posterior intermediate cell mass (ICM) and on the anterior yolk sac by 20 hpf. By 24 hpf, mpo-expressing cells were observed along the ICM and within the developing vascular system. Thus, the mpo gene should provide a useful molecular probe for identifying zebrafish mutants with defects in granulopoiesis. The expression of zebrafish homologues was also examined in 2 other mammalian hematopoietic genes, Pu.1, which appears to initiate a commitment step in normal mammalian myeloid development, and L-Plastin, a gene expressed by human monocytes and macrophages. The results demonstrate a high level of conservation of the spatio-temporal expression patterns of these genes between zebrafish and mammals. The morphologic and molecular genetic evidence presented here supports the zebrafish as an informative model system for the study of normal and aberrant human myelopoiesis.