O'Reilly-Pol, T., and Johnson, S.L. (2008) Neocuproine ablates melanocytes in adult zebrafish. Zebrafish. 5(4):257-264.
The simplest regeneration experiments involve the ablation of a single cell type. While methods exist to ablate the melanocytes of the larval zebrafish,(1,2) no convenient method exists to ablate melanocytes in adult zebrafish. Here, we show that the copper chelator neocuproine (NCP) causes fragmentation and disappearance of melanin in adult zebrafish melanocytes. Adult melanocytes expressing eGFP under the control of a melanocyte-specific promoter also lose eGFP fluorescence in the presence of NCP. We conclude that NCP causes melanocyte death. This death is independent of p53 and melanin, but can be suppressed by the addition of exogenous copper. NCP is ineffective at ablating larval melanocytes. This now provides a tool for addressing questions about stem cells and the maintenance of the adult pigment pattern in zebrafish.