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Zebrafish. 2007 Fall;4(3):187-99.

Differential regulation of primitive myelopoiesis in the zebrafish by Spi-1/Pu.1 and C/ebp1.

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Division of Hematology-Oncology and Cellular and Molecular Biology Program, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.


The zebrafish has become a powerful tool for analysis of vertebrate hematopoiesis. Zebrafish, unlike mammals, have a robust primitive myeloid pathway that generates both granulocytes and macrophages. It is not clear how this unique primitive myeloid pathway relates to mammalian definitive hematopoiesis. In this study, we show that the two myeloid subsets can be distinguished using RNA in situ hybridization. Using a morpholino-antisense gene knockdown approach, we have characterized the hematopoietic defects resulting from knockdown of the myeloid transcription factor gene pu.1 and the unique zebrafish gene c/ebp1. Severe reduction of pu.1 resulted in complete loss of primitive macrophage development, with effects on granulocyte development only with maximal knockdown. Reduction of c/ebp1 did not ablate initial macrophage or granulocyte development, but resulted in loss of expression of the secondary granule gene lys C. These data reveal strong functional conservation of pu.1 between zebrafish primitive myelopoiesis and mammalian definitive myelopoiesis. Further, these results are consistent with a conserved role between c/ebp1 and mammalian C/EBPE, whose ortholog in zebrafish has not been identified. These studies validate the examination of zebrafish primitive myeloid development as a model for human myelopoiesis, and form a framework for identification and analysis of myeloid mutants.

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