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Journal: Zebrafish


Selection criteria for sperm cryopreservation are highly relevant in zebrafish since sperm quality is particularly variable in this species. Successful cryopreservation depends on high-quality sperm, which can only be ensured by the selection of breeders. Consequently, male selection and management are a priority to improve cryopreservation, and therefore, this study aimed to characterize optimal age and sperm collection frequency in zebrafish. For this purpose, males from wild type (AB) and from a transgenic line [Tg(runx2:eGFP)] were sampled at 6, 8, 12, and 14 months. For each age, sperm were collected at time 0 followed by samplings at 2, 7, and 14 days of rest. Sperm quality was assessed according to motility and membrane viability parameters. Quality assessment showed that Tg(runx2:eGFP) displayed significantly higher motility than AB and younger males showed higher motility in both lines. Sperm collection frequency affected membrane viability. While AB fish recovered sperm viability after 14 days of rest, Tg(runx2:eGFP) could not recover. Consequently, it may be important to study the sperm quality of each zebrafish line before sperm cryopreservation. Taking into consideration the results achieved in both lines, sperm collection should be performed between 6 and 8 months of age with a minimum collection interval of 14 days.


Zebrafish embryos and larvae have become popular vertebrate models because their body walls are transparent, which enables live imaging of target organs using fluorescent protein transgenes or dye staining. Software packages for the quantification of these fluorescent signals are available from both commercial and noncommercial sources; however, their algorithms are complicated and their resources (code) have mostly not been openly shared. In this study, we developed a simple and robust open-source software tool named “ZF-Mapper” for the quantification of the fluorescence intensity of each pixel in zebrafish images with batch image file processing capability. Using this software, we can evaluate the three-dimensional (3D) distribution of fluorescence intensity among zebrafish cells by analyzing each image pixel. We tested ZF-Mapper for the analysis of zebrafish with macrophage-specific enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) and obtained results that were equivalent to those acquired using the conventional image analysis software ImageJ. We further applied ZF-Mapper to the analysis of zebrafish with cancer cell xenografts and quantified the amount of implanted melanoma cells labeled with a tdTomato red fluorescent protein in the whole body and the tail region. In addition, by combining ZF-Mapper with R freeware, we created an interactive 3D scatter plot of the fluorescence intensities of macrophage-EGFPs in zebrafish. In summary, we developed the Python-based freeware ZF-Mapper for the quantification of fluorescent signals in multiple zebrafish images, which enables fluorescence-based zebrafish screening. We provide the source code and the executable application software for Windows (.exe) and macOS (.app).


Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common and deadliest form of brain cancer. Glioblastomas are infiltrated by a high number of microglia, which promote tumor growth and surrounding tissue invasion. However, it is unclear how microglia and glioma cells physically interact and if there are differences, depending on glioma cell type. Hence, we have developed a novel live imaging assay to study microglia-glioma interactions in vivo in the zebrafish brain. We transplanted well-established human glioblastoma cell lines, U87 and U251, into transgenic zebrafish lines with labelled macrophages/microglia. Our confocal live imaging results show distinct interactions between microglia and U87, as well as U251 glioblastoma cells that differ in number and nature. Importantly these interactions do not appear to be antitumoral as zebrafish microglia do not engulf and phagocytose the human glioblastoma cells. Finally, xenotransplants into the irf8(-/-) zebrafish mutant that lacks microglia, as well as pharmacological inhibition of the CSF-1 receptor (CSF-1R) on microglia, confirm a prominent role for zebrafish microglia in promoting human glioblastoma cell growth. This new model will be an important tool for drug screening and the development of future immunotherapeutics targeting microglia within glioma.

Concepts: Protein, Cell, Cancer, Cell biology, Glioma, Brain tumor, Astrocytoma, Glioblastoma multiforme


Emotional disturbances constitute a major health issue affecting a considerable portion of the population in western countries. In this context, animal models offer a relevant tool to address the underlying biological determinants and to screen novel therapeutic strategies. While rodents have traditionally constituted the species of choice, zebrafish are now becoming a viable alternative. As zebrafish gain momentum in biomedical sciences, considerable efforts are being devoted to developing high-throughput behavioral tests. Here, we present a comparative study of zebrafish behavioral response to fear-evoking stimuli offered via three alternative methodologies. Specifically, in a binary-choice test, we exposed zebrafish to an allopatric predator Astronotus ocellatus, presented in the form of a live subject, a robotic replica, and a computer-animated image. The robot’s design and operation were inspired by the morphology and tail-beat motion of its live counterpart, thereby offering a consistent three-dimensional stimulus to focal fish. The computer-animated image was also designed after the live subject to replicate its appearance. We observed that differently from computer-animated images, both the live predator and its robotic replica elicited robust avoidance response in zebrafish. In addition, in response to the robot, zebrafish exhibited increased thrashing behavior, which is considered a valid indicator of fear. Finally, inter-individual response to a robotic stimulus is more consistent than that shown in response to live stimuli and animated images, thereby increasing experimental statistical power. Our study supports the view that robotic stimuli can constitute a promising experimental tool to elicit targeted behavioral responses in zebrafish.

Concepts: Psychology, Predation, Ecology, Experiment, Computer graphics, Robotics, Robot


Abstract Existing zebrafish embryonic stem (ES) cell lines are derived and maintained using feeder layers. We describe here the derivation and long-term culture of an ES cell-like line derived from zebrafish blastomeres without the use of feeder cells. This line, designated as ZES1, has been maintained for more than 800 days in defined Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium supplemented with fetal bovine serum, zebrafish embryo extract, trout serum, and human basic fibroblast growth factor. ZES1 cells possessed a morphology typical of ES cells, being round or polygonal in shape with a large nucleus and sparse cytoplasm and were mostly diploid. The cells formed individual colonies consisting of tightly packed cells that stained positively for alkaline phosphatase. ZES1 cells also formed embryoid bodies when transferred onto uncoated wells. The pluripotent nature of ZES1 cells was confirmed when they could be induced to differentiate in vitro into several cell types, through low- or high-density culture conditions. Treatment with retinoic acid also induced the differentiation of ZES1 cells into primarily neuronal cells. Using immunostaining and real-time polymerase chain reaction, we showed that Sox2, a known pluripotent marker in mammalian ES cells, was also present in ZES1 cells. Chimera experiments revealed that fluorescent-labeled ZES1 cells microinjected into zebrafish blastulas participated in the formation of all three germ layers. Using GFP-labeled ZES1 cells, chimera germline transmission was also demonstrated at the F1 generation. In conclusion, ZES1 cells possess both in vitro and in vivo pluripotency characteristics, indicating that nonmammalian ES cells can be readily derived and maintained for a long term under feeder-free culture conditions.

Concepts: DNA, Cell nucleus, Cell, Enzyme, Embryo, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Cellular differentiation


Electronic databases provide effective and efficient management of zebrafish colony operations, but commercially available options are expensive. In this study we have developed a free zebrafish management repository alternative using free Google applications. Husbandry information is logged into a Google Sheets-based catalog through Google Form (GF) entries. Form autopopulation can be streamlined by barcodes, which can be generated and deciphered through free smartphone applications. The repository is capable of calculating pertinent husbandry dates from GF input and sending e-mail reminders to users for specified tasks. A Google application-based repository allows for a free simple zebrafish husbandry management solution.


The Nordic zebrafish and husbandry meeting took place at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, November 7-9, 2018. More than 120 scientists from Europe joined this meeting, which also attracted world-leading keynote speakers such as Zoltan Varga, Didier Stainier, and Hernán Lopez-Schier. The meeting comprised both scientific as well as zebrafish husbandry and animal welfare sessions. This combination led to fruitful discussions, new collaborations as well as in the formation of a working group that will review and compile evidence-based husbandry guidelines for the local authorities. The success of this meeting emphasizes in general that smaller local conferences provide an excellent platform to establish local networks, to build up and share local infrastructures as well as to provide knowledge and help to peer researchers.


Zebrafish health is a primary research concern because diseases can have unintended impacts on experimental endpoints. Ideally, research would be conducted using disease-free fish or fish with known disease status. Mycobacteriosis is a common bacterial disease in wild and captive fishes, including zebrafish. Despite its prevalence, the dynamics of transmission and potential sources of mycobacterial infections in zebrafish are only partially understood. One suspected natural infection source is surface biofilms on tanks and other system components. This study investigates the role that tank biofilms play in mycobacteriosis in laboratory zebrafish by evaluating the establishment of biofilms from bacteria shed from fish, and conversely, the acquisition of infections in fish from surface biofilms. We found that zebrafish infected with Mycobacterium chelonae shed bacteria through feces, and bacteria are transmitted to tank biofilms from one to 16 weeks postinfection. We also found that zebrafish acquire M. chelonae infections as soon as 2 weeks when introduced to tanks with established M. chelonae biofilms. The results from this study highlight the role that tank biofilms play as both a reservoir and source of mycobacterial infections in zebrafish. Results support the inclusion of biofilm surveillance and prevention as part of a disease control program in zebrafish research facilities.


We developed an easy, efficient, and cheap protocol for zebrafish sperm cryopreservation carried out on dry ice (20 min) using simple composition solution (200 mM glucose, 40 mM KCl, 30 mM Tris, pH = 8.0). The average efficiency of the present cryopreserve method was between 10% and 20% (expressed as fertilization rate). The experiments were conducted and repeated at two different locations, in different countries, yielding very similar results, showing the reproducibility and applicability of the method.


Chemical interventions are regularly used to examine and manipulate macrophage function in larval zebrafish. Given chemicals are typically administered by simple immersion or injection, it is not possible to resolve whether their impact on macrophage function is direct or indirect. Liposomes provide an attractive strategy to target drugs to specific cellular compartments, including macrophages. As an example, injecting liposomal clodronate into animal models, including zebrafish, is routinely used to deliver toxic levels of clodronate specifically to macrophages for targeted cell ablation. Here we show that liposomes can also target the delivery of drugs to zebrafish macrophages to selectively manipulate their function. We utilized the drugs etomoxir (a fatty acid oxidation inhibitor) and MitoTEMPO (a scavenger of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species [mROS]), that we have previously shown, through free drug delivery, suppress monosodium urate (MSU) crystal-driven macrophage activation. We generated poloxamer 188 modified liposomes that were readily phagocytosed by macrophages, but not by neutrophils. Loading these liposomes with etomoxir or MitoTEMPO and injecting into larvae suppressed macrophage activation in response to MSU crystals, as evidenced by proinflammatory cytokine expression and macrophage-driven neutrophil recruitment. This work reveals the utility of packaging drugs into liposomes as a strategy to selectively manipulate macrophage function.