High-resolution analysis of central nervous system expression patterns in zebrafish Gal4 enhancer-trap lines

Dev Dyn. 2015 Jun;244(6):785-96. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.24260. Epub 2015 Apr 23.


Background: The application of the Gal4/UAS system to enhancer and gene trapping screens in zebrafish has greatly increased the ability to label and manipulate cell populations in multiple tissues, including the central nervous system (CNS). However the ability to select existing lines for specific applications has been limited by the lack of detailed expression analysis.

Results: We describe a Gal4 enhancer trap screen in which we used advanced image analysis, including three-dimensional confocal reconstructions and documentation of expression patterns at multiple developmental time points. In all, we have created and annotated 98 lines exhibiting a wide range of expression patterns, most of which include CNS expression. Expression was also observed in nonneural tissues such as muscle, skin epithelium, vasculature, and neural crest derivatives. All lines and data are publicly available from the Zebrafish International Research Center (ZIRC) from the Zebrafish Model Organism Database (ZFIN).

Conclusions: Our detailed documentation of expression patterns, combined with the public availability of images and fish lines, provides a valuable resource for researchers wishing to study CNS development and function in zebrafish. Our data also suggest that many existing enhancer trap lines may have previously uncharacterized expression in multiple tissues and cell types.

Keywords: CNS; Gal4; confocal; neural circuit; zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified / embryology
  • Animals, Genetically Modified / genetics*
  • Central Nervous System / embryology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic*
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genes, Reporter*
  • Genes, Synthetic
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Luminescent Proteins / analysis
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Organ Specificity
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Zebrafish / embryology
  • Zebrafish / genetics*
  • Zebrafish Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics*


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • GAL4 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • red fluorescent protein