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Methods. 2006 Jul;39(3):228-38.

Modern mosaic analysis in the zebrafish.

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HHMI and Division of Basic Science, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, B2-152, 1100 Fairview Ave., N. Seattle, WA 98115, USA.


One of the most powerful tools used to gain insight into complex developmental processes is the analysis of mosaic embryos. A mosaic is defined as an organism that contains cells of more than one genotype, usually wild-type and mutant. It is the interplay between wild-type and mutant cells in the mosaic that reveals information about the normal function of the mutated gene. Mosaic analysis has been utilized extensively in Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila, mice, and zebrafish to elucidate when, where, and how a gene acts during development. In the zebrafish, mosaic analysis has been used to dissect a number of different developmental processes, including gastrulation movements, mesoderm and endoderm specification, neuronal patterning and migration, axon pathfinding, angiogenesis, and cardiac, retinal, and neural crest development. Mosaic analysis is a particularly effective method for understanding gene function in the zebrafish, a model organism particularly suited to forward genetic, molecular, and classical embryological approaches. These attributes, when combined with the accessibility and optical clarity of the zebrafish embryo, facilitate the real time observation of individual cell behaviors and interactions within mosaic embryos.

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