Kim, H.J., Sumanas, S., Palencia-Desai, S., Dong, Y., Chen, J.N., and Lin, S. (2006) Genetic analysis of early endocrine pancreas formation in zebrafish. Molecular endocrinology (Baltimore, Md.). 20(1):194-203.
Endocrine pancreas of zebrafish consist of at least four different cell types that function similarly to mammalian pancreatic islet. No mutants specifically affecting formation of the endocrine pancreas have been identified during the previous large-scale mutagenesis screens in zebrafish due to invisibility of a pancreatic islet. We combined in situ hybridization method to visualize pancreatic islet with an ENU mutagenesis screen to identify novel genes involved in pancreatic islet formation in zebrafish. We screened 900 genomes and identified 11 mutations belonging to 9 different complementation groups. These mutants fall into three major phenotypic classes displaying severely reduced insulin expression, reduced insulin expression with abnormal islet morphology, or abnormal islet morphology with relatively normal number of insulin expressing cells. Seven of these mutants do not have any other visible phenotypes associated. These mutations affect different processes in pancreatic islet development. Additional analysis on glucagon and somatostatin cell specification revealed that somatostatin cells are specified at a separate domain from insulin cells whereas glucagon cells are specified adjacent to insulin cells. Furthermore, glucagon cells and somatostatin cells are always associated with insulin cells in mutants that have scattered insulin expression. These data indicate that there are separate mechanisms regulating endocrine cell migration, proliferation, and differentiation. Further study on these mutants will reveal important information on novel genes involved in pancreatic islet cell specification and morphogenesis.