Zebrafish: a model system to study heritable skin diseases

J Invest Dermatol. 2011 Mar;131(3):565-71. doi: 10.1038/jid.2010.388. Epub 2010 Dec 30.


Heritable skin diseases represent a broad spectrum of clinical manifestations due to mutations in ∼500 different genes. A number of model systems have been developed to advance our understanding of the pathomechanisms of genodermatoses. Zebrafish (Danio rerio), a freshwater vertebrate, has a well-characterized genome, the expression of which can be easily manipulated. The larvae develop rapidly, with all major organs having developed by 5-6 days post-fertilization, including the skin, consisting of the epidermis comprising two cell layers and separated from the dermal collagenous matrix by a basement membrane. This perspective highlights the morphological and ultrastructural features of zebrafish skin, in the context of cutaneous gene expression. These observations suggest that zebrafish provide a useful model system to study the molecular aspects of skin development, as well as the pathogenesis and treatment of select heritable skin diseases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Epidermis / metabolism
  • Epidermis / ultrastructure
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal*
  • Skin Diseases / genetics*
  • Skin Diseases / metabolism
  • Zebrafish*