The zebrafish as a model organism for the study of apoptosis

Apoptosis. 2010 Mar;15(3):331-49. doi: 10.1007/s10495-009-0432-9.


Apoptosis plays important roles in embryogenesis, tissue homeostasis, and immune system regulation. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a powerful vertebrate model organism that has been extensively used to study apoptotic cell death during normal development and under conditions of cellular stress. In the past 5 years, a detailed picture has begun to emerge of the molecular underpinnings of the cell-intrinsic and the cell-extrinsic apoptosis signaling pathways in zebrafish. We begin this review with an introduction to the techniques and experimental approaches that are used to study apoptosis in zebrafish. We follow with a general overview of developmental apoptosis during zebrafish embryogenesis. Finally, we present a comprehensive review of the intrinsic and extrinsic apoptosis pathways in zebrafish, focusing on the high degree of conservation with humans and other mammals. Recent publications that draw upon the unique advantages of the zebrafish system to study novel aspects of apoptosis regulation and function are highlighted throughout.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism
  • Apoptosis*
  • Models, Animal*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Zebrafish / growth & development
  • Zebrafish / physiology*


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins