The Gal4/UAS toolbox in zebrafish: new approaches for defining behavioral circuits

J Neurochem. 2009 Jul;110(2):441-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06161.x. Epub 2009 May 11.


Over recent years, several groundbreaking techniques have been developed that allow for the anatomical description of neurons, and the observation and manipulation of their activity. Combined, these approaches should provide a great leap forward in our understanding of the structure and connectivity of the nervous system and how, as a network of individual neurons, it generates behavior. Zebrafish, given their external development and optical transparency, are an appealing system in which to employ these methods. These traits allow for direct observation of fluorescence in describing anatomy and observing neural activity, and for the manipulation of neurons using a host of light-triggered proteins. Gal4/Upstream Activating Sequence techniques, as they are based on a binary system, allow for the flexible deployment of a range of transgenes in expression patterns of interest. As such, they provide a promising approach for viewing neurons in a variety of ways, each of which can reveal something different about their structure, connectivity, or function. In this study, the author will review recent progress in the development of the Gal4/Upstream Activating Sequence system in zebrafish, feature examples of promising studies to date, and examine how various new technologies can be used in the future to untangle the complex mechanisms by which behavior is generated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / analysis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / analysis
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / chemistry
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / analysis
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Transgenes
  • Zebrafish
  • Zebrafish Proteins / analysis
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics
  • Zebrafish Proteins / physiology*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Gal4 protein, zebrafish
  • Transcription Factors
  • Zebrafish Proteins