Initiation and early growth of the skull vault in zebrafish

Kanther, M., Scalici, A., Rashid, A., Miao, K., Van Deventer, E., Fisher, S.
Mechanisms of Development   160: 103578 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Fisher, Shannon, Kanther, Michelle
Confocal microscopy, Craniofacial development, Osteoblast, Skull, Zebrafish
MeSH Terms
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Morphogenesis
  • Osteogenesis
  • Skull/diagnostic imaging
  • Skull/growth & development*
  • Zebrafish/genetics
  • Zebrafish/growth & development*
31644945 Full text @ Mech. Dev.
The zebrafish offers powerful advantages as a model system for examining the growth of the skull vault and the formation of cranial sutures. The zebrafish is well suited for large-scale genetic screens, available in large numbers, and continual advances in genetic engineering facilitate precise modeling of human genetic disorders. Most importantly, zebrafish are continuously accessible for imaging during critical periods of skull formation when both mouse and chick are physically inaccessible. To establish a foundation of information on the dynamics of skull formation, we performed a longitudinal study based on confocal microscopy of individual live transgenic zebrafish. Discrete events occur at stereotyped stages in overall growth, with little variation in timing among individuals. The frontal and parietal bones initiate as small clusters of cells closely associated with cartilage around the perimeter of the skull, prior to metamorphosis and the transition to juvenile fish. Over a period of ~30 days, the frontal and parietal bones grow towards the apex of the skull and meet to begin suture formation. To aid in visualization, we have generated interactive three-dimensional models based on the imaging data, with annotated cartilage and bone elements. We propose a framework to conceptualize development of bones of the skull vault in three phases: initiation in close association with cartilage; rapid planar growth towards the apex of the skull; and finally overlapping to form sutures. Our data provide an important framework for comparing the stages and timing of skull development across model organisms, and also a baseline for the examination of zebrafish mutants affecting skull development. To facilitate these comparative analyses, the raw imaging data and the models are available as an online atlas through the FaceBase consortium (
Genes / Markers
Show all Figures
Mutations / Transgenics
Human Disease / Model
Sequence Targeting Reagents
Engineered Foreign Genes