Zhao, X.C., Yee, R.W., Norcom, E., Burgess, H., Avanesov, A.S., Barrish, J.P., and Malicki, J. (2006) The zebrafish cornea: structure and development. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science. 47(10):4341-4348.
PURPOSE: To evaluate the zebrafish as a model for the studies of corneal development and disease. METHODS: Zebrafish embryos and larvae at various stages of development were used for documenting corneal morphogenesis and differentiation. Corneal samples were collected from embryos, larvae, and adult zebrafish for histologic and electron microscopy analysis. Expression patterns of corneal polypeptides were investigated by immunostaining of sections. RESULTS: The zebrafish cornea develops rapidly during embryogenesis, so that its three major layers, the epithelium, the stroma, and the endothelium, are well formed by day 3 postfertilization. The subsequent steps of corneal differentiation, such as the thickening of the corneal stroma, proceed relatively slowly. Several polypeptides are highly enriched in the epithelium or the stroma of the larval and adult zebrafish cornea and are excellent markers of corneal differentiation. CONCLUSIONS: Development and differentiation of the zebrafish cornea are easily accessible to analysis. Anatomic and ultrastructural characterization of the zebrafish cornea demonstrates many similarities to the human cornea and provides the basis for the use of the zebrafish model both to analyze the basic genetic mechanisms of corneal development and to study the causes of corneal disease.