The zebrafish as a model for human disease

Front Biosci. 2002 Jun 1:7:d1439-53. doi: 10.2741/penber.


Much of our current understanding of the function of genes modulating the normal process of embryonic development has come from mutant analysis. The availability of thousands of mutant lines in zebrafish that allows for identification of novel genes regulating various aspects of embryogenesis has been instrumental in establishing zebrafish as a robust and reliable genetic system. With the advances in genomic sequencing, the construction of several genetic maps, and cloning of hundreds of ESTs, positional cloning experiments in zebrafish have become more approachable. An increasing number of mutant genes have been cloned. Several zebrafish mutants are representative of known forms of human genetic diseases. The success of morpholino antisense technology in zebrafish potentially opens the door for modeling nearly any inherited developmental defect. This review highlights the strengths and limitations of using the zebrafish as an organism for elucidation of the genetic etiology of human disease. Additionally a survey of current and future zebrafish models of human disease is presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Zebrafish / genetics*