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Blood. 2005 Jul 15;106(2):521-30. Epub 2005 Apr 12.

Mutant-specific gene programs in the zebrafish.

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  • 1Children's Hospital Stem Cell Program, Department of Hematology/Oncology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Karp 7, 1 Blackfan Circle, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Hematopoiesis involves the production of stem cells, followed by the orchestrated differentiation of the blood lineages. Genetic screens in zebrafish have identified mutants with defects that disrupt specific stages of hematopoiesis and vasculogenesis, including the cloche, spadetail (tbx16), moonshine (tif1g), bloodless, and vlad tepes (gata1) mutants. To better characterize the blood program, gene expression profiling was carried out in these mutants and in scl-morphants (scl(mo)). Distinct gene clusters were demarcated by stage-specific and mutant-specific gene regulation. These were found to correlate with the transcriptional program of hematopoietic progenitor cells, as well as of the erythroid, myeloid, and vascular lineages. Among these, several novel hematopoietic and vascular genes were detected, for instance, the erythroid transcription factors znfl2 and ncoa4. A specific regulation was found for myeloid genes, as they were more strongly expressed in vlt mutants compared with other erythroid mutants. A unique gene expression pattern of up-regulated isoprenoid synthesis genes was found in cloche and scl(mo), possibly in migrating cells. In conjunction with the high conservation of vertebrate hematopoiesis, the comparison of transcriptional profiles in zebrafish blood mutants represents a versatile and powerful tool to elucidate the genetic regulation of blood and blood vessel development.

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