The developing nervous system consists of a variety of cell types. Transgenic animals expressing reporter genes in specific classes of neuronal cells are powerful tools for the study of neuronal network formation. We generated a wide variety of transgenic zebrafish that expressed reporter genes in specific classes of neurons or neuronal progenitors. These include lines in which neurons of specific neurotransmitter phenotypes expressed fluorescent proteins or Gal4, and lines in which specific subsets of the dorsal progenitor domain in the spinal cord expressed fluorescent proteins. Using these, we examined domain organization in the developing dorsal spinal cord, and found that there are six progenitor domains in zebrafish, which is similar to the domain organization in mice. We also systematically characterized neurotransmitter properties of the neurons that are produced from each domain. Given that reporter gene expressions occurs in a wide area of the nervous system in the lines generated, these transgenic fish should serve as powerful tools for the investigation of not only the neurons in the dorsal spinal cord but also neuronal structures and functions in many other regions of the nervous system.
Keywords: Domain organization; Neurotransmitter phenotype; Spinal cord; Transcription factors; Transgenic zebrafish.