The zebrafish as a model for complex tissue regeneration

Trends Genet. 2013 Nov;29(11):611-20. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2013.07.003. Epub 2013 Aug 6.


For centuries, philosophers and scientists have been fascinated by the principles and implications of regeneration in lower vertebrate species. Two features have made zebrafish an informative model system for determining mechanisms of regenerative events. First, they are highly regenerative, able to regrow amputated fins, as well as a lesioned brain, retina, spinal cord, heart, and other tissues. Second, they are amenable to both forward and reverse genetic approaches, with a research toolset regularly updated by an expanding community of zebrafish researchers. Zebrafish studies have helped identify new mechanistic underpinnings of regeneration in multiple tissues and, in some cases, have served as a guide for contemplating regenerative strategies in mammals. Here, we review the recent history of zebrafish as a genetic model system for understanding how and why tissue regeneration occurs.

Keywords: brain; fin; heart; regeneration; retina; spinal cord; stem cells; zebrafish.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animal Fins / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Regeneration*
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Zebrafish / genetics