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Methods Cell Biol. 2016;134:431-61. doi: 10.1016/bs.mcb.2016.02.009. Epub 2016 Mar 17.

Zebrafish pancreas as a model for development and disease.

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University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.


The vertebrate pancreas is composed of acinar tissue that produces digestive enzymes, a ductal system for transporting those enzymes, and the endocrine islets which produce hormones critical for organism glucose homeostasis. Recent studies have highlighted similarities between zebrafish and mammals in organ development, and increasingly reveal that the regulation of metabolic homeostasis is highly conserved as well. Use of zebrafish as a model organism, with its ease of genetic manipulation, high fecundity, and ready access for imaging, has been highly productive for studies of islet cell development. We review the most recent progress in our understanding of how the later forming endocrine cells develop from duct-associated progenitors and new tools available for these studies. We also discuss current approaches and technological advances for addressing beta cell physiology, organism glucose homeostasis, and associated processes within zebrafish. Finally, we describe emerging methods being used to establish new zebrafish models of diabetes and related pathologies, to expand the use of this model organism to discover new therapies and to facilitate studies of disease pathology.


Beta cell; Diabetes; Duct; Glucose; Insulin; Islet; Notch; Pancreas; Pdx1; Zebrafish

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