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Nat Protoc. 2013 Jun;8(6):1114-24. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2013.068. Epub 2013 May 16.

Evaluation of the pathogenesis and treatment of Mycobacterium marinum infection in zebrafish.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.


Mycobacterium marinum-infected zebrafish are used to study tuberculosis pathogenesis, as well as for antitubercular drug discovery. The small size of zebrafish larvae coupled with their optical transparency allows for rapid analysis of bacterial burdens and host survival in response to genetic and pharmacological manipulations of both mycobacteria and host. Automated fluorescence microscopy and automated plate fluorimetry (APF) are coupled with facile husbandry to facilitate large-scale, repeated analysis of individual infected fish. Both methods allow for in vivo screening of chemical libraries, requiring only 0.1 μmol of drug per fish to assess efficacy; they also permit a more detailed evaluation of the individual stages of tuberculosis pathogenesis. Here we describe a 16-h protocol spanning 22 d, in which zebrafish larvae are infected via the two primary injection sites, the hindbrain ventricle and caudal vein; this is followed by the high-throughput evaluation of pathogenesis and antimicrobial efficacy.

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