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Trends Cell Biol. 2006 Feb;16(2):105-12. Epub 2006 Jan 10.

In vivo cell biology: following the zebrafish trend.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Programs in Developmental Biology, Genetics and Human Genetics, Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-2711, USA.


A deeper understanding of the mechanisms of cell behavior is essential if we want to comprehend how an organism develops and functions. Changes in cellular processes, including the orientation of cell divisions, cell shape, polarity, differentiation and migration, account for tissue rearrangements during development and homeostasis. The in vivo relevance of in vitro findings is being constantly debated and the need for in vivo systems becoming more pressing. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) might become the vertebrate system of choice for a wide spectrum of biological questions that need to be investigated in vivo at cellular and subcellular resolutions. Here, we discuss some recent studies in which the zebrafish was used to gain insight into cell-biological mechanisms. Although this model system has been predominantly appreciated for its amenability to forward genetics, current advances in imaging technology and an increasing number of transgenic lines are bringing it closer to its full potential.

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