The pancreas is a vertebrate-specific organ of endodermal origin which is responsible for production of digestive enzymes and hormones involved in regulating glucose homeostasis, in particular insulin, deficiency of which results in diabetes. Basic research on the genetic and molecular pathways regulating pancreas formation and function has gained major importance for the development of regenerative medical approaches aimed at improving diabetes treatment. Among the different model organisms that are currently used to elucidate the basic pathways of pancreas development and regeneration, the zebrafish is distinguished by its unique opportunities to combine genetic and pharmacological approaches with sophisticated live-imaging methodology, and by its ability to regenerate the pancreas within a short time. Here we review current perspectives and present methods for studying two important processes contributing to pancreas development and regeneration, namely cell migration via time-lapse micropscopy and cell proliferation via incorporation of nucleotide analog EdU, with a focus on the insulin-producing beta cells of the islet.
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