Use of the zebrafish system to study primitive and definitive hematopoiesis

Annu Rev Genet. 2005;39:481-501. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genet.39.073003.095931.


The zebrafish (Danio rerio) has emerged as an ideal organism for the study of hematopoiesis, the process by which all the cellular elements of the blood are formed. These elements, including erythrocytes, granulocytes, monocytes, lymphocytes, and thrombocytes, are formed through complex genetic signaling pathways that are highly conserved throughout phylogeny. Large-scale forward genetic screens have identified numerous blood mutants in zebrafish, helping to elucidate specific signaling pathways important for hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and the various committed blood cell lineages. Here we review both primitive and definitive hematopoiesis in zebrafish, discuss various genetic methods available in the zebrafish model for studying hematopoiesis, and describe some of the zebrafish blood mutants identified to date, many of which have known human disease counterparts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hematologic Diseases / genetics
  • Hematopoiesis* / genetics
  • Hematopoiesis* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Zebrafish / genetics*
  • Zebrafish / physiology*