Stachura, D.L., Reyes, J.R., Bartunek, P., Paw, B.H., Zon, L.I., and Traver, D. (2009) Zebrafish kidney stromal cell lines support multilineage hematopoiesis. Blood. 114(2):279-289.
Studies of zebrafish hematopoiesis have been largely performed using mutagenesis approaches and retrospective analyses based upon gene expression patterns in whole embryos. We previously developed transplantation assays to test the repopulation potentials of candidate hematopoietic progenitor cells. We have been impaired, however, in determining cellular differentiation potentials by a lack of short-term functional assays. To enable more precise analyses of hematopoietic progenitor cells, we have created zebrafish kidney stromal (ZKS) cell lines. Culture of adult whole kidney marrow with ZKS cells results in the maintenance and expansion of hematopoietic precursor cells. Hematopoietic growth is dependent upon ZKS cells, and we show that ZKS cells express many growth factors and ligands previously demonstrated to be important in maintaining mammalian hematopoietic cells. In the absence of exogenous growth factors, ZKS cells maintain early hematopoietic precursors and support differentiation of lymphoid and myeloid cells. With the addition of zebrafish erythropoietin, ZKS cells also support the differentiation of erythroid precursors. These conditions have enabled the ability to ascertain more precisely the points at which hematopoietic mutants are defective. The development of robust in vitro assays now provide the means to track defined, functional outcomes for prospectively isolated blood cell subsets in the zebrafish.