Histology-based screen for zebrafish mutants with abnormal cell differentiation

Dev Dyn. 2003 Nov;228(3):414-23. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.10407.


The power of histology to define states of cell differentiation was used as the basis of a mutagenesis screen in zebrafish. In this screen, 7-day-old parthenogenetic half-tetrad larvae from potential carrier females were screened for mutations affecting cell differentiation in hematoxylin and eosin-stained tissue sections. Seven, noncomplementing, recessive mutations were found. Two mutations affect only the retina: segmented photoreceptors (spr) show a discontinuous photoreceptor cell layer; vestigial outer segments (vos) has fewer photoreceptor cells and degenerated outer segments within this cell layer. Three mutants have gut-specific defects: the epithelial cells of kirby (kby) are replaced by ballooned cells; the intestines of stuffy (sfy) and stuffed (sfd) contain increased luminal mucus. Two mutations affect multiple organs: disordered neural retina (dnr) has disrupted retinal layering and mild nuclear abnormalities in the gut and liver; and in huli hutu (hht), the retinal cell layers are disorganized and multiple organs have mild to severe nuclear abnormalities that are reminiscent of the atypia of human neoplasia. Each mutation appears to be homozygous lethal. This screen is proof of principle for the feasibility of histologic screens to yield novel mutations, including potential models of human disease. The throughput for this type of screen may be enhanced by automation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Eye / cytology
  • Eye / embryology
  • Male
  • Morphogenesis
  • Mutagenesis*
  • Parthenogenesis
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / cytology
  • Zebrafish / genetics*