Cellular differentiation in primary cell cultures from single zebrafish embryos as a model for the study of myogenesis

Zebrafish. 2010 Sep;7(3):255-66. doi: 10.1089/zeb.2010.0665.


Culturing cells in vitro can produce a uniform population for the study of cellular differentiation, which is especially useful for the quantification of gene expression or the observation of subcellular structures. In zebrafish, a handful of immortalized cell lines have been used for these purposes, despite being heavily selected by passaging. Methods for primary cell culture of zebrafish embryonic blastomeres have been previously reported, but require combining a large number of genetically heterogeneous embryos, meaning that subsequent cell cultures are not clonal. Without genetically uniform cultures, this model system cannot exploit the wealth of available embryonic lethal mutants in zebrafish. We therefore describe methods for the generation of zebrafish embryonic blastomere cell cultures from single genetically characterized embryos. We examined myogenic differentiation and gene expression in single-embryo cultures from early wild-type embryos, as well as embryos containing an embryonic lethal mutation of unc45b, a myosin chaperone known to be required for sarcomere organization during myogenesis. We also demonstrated the practical usefulness of this technique by experimentally manipulating expression of specific genes in individual embryos before cell culture using standard tools of zebrafish biology such as morpholino-oligonucleotide gene knockdown and transgene-mediated gene expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Heart / embryology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Muscle Development*
  • Myocardium / cytology*
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Zebrafish / embryology*
  • Zebrafish / genetics
  • Zebrafish / metabolism