Characterization of mesonephric development and regeneration using transgenic zebrafish

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2010 Nov;299(5):F1040-7. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00394.2010. Epub 2010 Sep 1.


The zebrafish is a valuable vertebrate model for kidney research. The majority of previous studies focused on the zebrafish pronephros, which comprises only two nephrons and is structurally simpler than the mesonephros of adult fish and the metanephros of mammals. To evaluate the zebrafish system for more complex studies of kidney development and regeneration, we investigated the development and postinjury regeneration of the mesonephros in adult zebrafish. Utilizing two transgenic zebrafish lines (wt1b::GFP and pod::NTR-mCherry), we characterized the developmental stages of individual mesonephric nephrons and the temporal-spatial pattern of mesonephrogenesis. We found that mesonephrogenesis continues throughout the life of zebrafish, with a rapid growth phase during the juvenile period and a slower phase in adulthood such that the total nephron number of juvenile and adult fish linearly correlates with body mass. Following gentamicin-induced renal injury, the zebrafish mesonephros can undergo de novo regeneration of mesonephric nephrons, a process known as neonephrogenesis. We found that wt1b expression was induced in individually dispersed cells in the mesonephric interstitium as early as 48 h following injury. These wt1b-expressing cells formed aggregates by 72-96 h following injury which proceeded to form nephrons. This suggests that wt1b may serve as an early marker of fated renal progenitor cells. The synchronous nature of regenerative neonephrogenesis suggests that this process may be useful for studies of nephron development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Genes, Wilms Tumor / physiology
  • Genetic Markers
  • Gentamicins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Kidney / growth & development
  • Kidney / physiology
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Nephrons / growth & development*
  • Nephrons / physiology*
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Renal Insufficiency / chemically induced
  • Renal Insufficiency / pathology
  • Stem Cells / physiology
  • Zebrafish / physiology*
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics


  • CDH17 protein, zebrafish
  • Cadherins
  • Genetic Markers
  • Gentamicins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • NPHS2 protein
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins