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Hum Mol Genet. 2000 Oct;9(16):2443-9.

Zebrafish: bridging the gap between development and disease.

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  • 1Molecular Genetics and Development Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.


The zebrafish has been the model of choice amongst developmental biologists for many years. This small freshwater species offers many advantages to the study of organ and tissue development that are not provided by other model systems. Against this background, modern molecular genetic approaches are being applied to expand the physical and genetic mapping of the zebrafish genome. These approaches complement the large-scale mutagenic screens that have led to the isolation of mutant phenotypes. Some of the phenotypes have been found to resemble human disease states, while mapping and sequencing data have revealed zebrafish genes with significant homology to human disease-causing genes. It is the realization that the zebrafish offers an amenable system for understanding disease, as opposed to development, that underpins this review. The adventitious identification of disease phenotypes amongst zebrafish mutants and the important area of deliberate disease modelling using transgenesis and gene targeting should lead to a better application of the zebrafish as a vertebrate model of human diseases.

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