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Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today. 2011 Sep;93(3):268-80. doi: 10.1002/bdrc.20212.

The developing zebrafish (Danio rerio): a vertebrate model for high-throughput screening of chemical libraries.

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Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Memphis, Tennessee 38152, USA.


The zebrafish, Danio rerio, a small, tropical freshwater species native to Pakistan and India, has become a National Institutes of Health-sanctioned model organism and, due to its many advantages as an experimental vertebrate, it has garnered intense interest from the world's scientific community. Some have labeled the zebrafish, the "vertebrate Drosophila," due to its genetic tractability, small size, low cost, and rapid development. The transparency of the embryo, external development, and the many hundreds of mutant and transgenic lines available add to the allure. Now it appears, the zebrafish can be used for high-throughput screening (HTS) of drug libraries in the discovery process of promising new therapeutics. In this review, various types of screening methods are briefly outlined, as are a variety of screens for different disease models, to highlight the range of zebrafish HTS possibilities. High-content screening (HCS) has been available for cell-based screens for some time and, very recently, HCS is being adapted for the zebrafish. This will allow analysis, at high resolution, of drug effects on whole vertebrates; thus, whole body effects as well as those on specific organs and tissues may be determined.

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