Studying the peripheral sympathetic nervous system and neuroblastoma in zebrafish

Methods Cell Biol. 2016;134:97-138. doi: 10.1016/bs.mcb.2015.12.003. Epub 2016 Feb 27.


The zebrafish serves as an excellent model to study vertebrate development and disease. Optically clear embryos, combined with tissue-specific fluorescent reporters, permit direct visualization and measurement of peripheral nervous system formation in real time. Additionally, the model is amenable to rapid cellular, molecular, and genetic approaches to determine how developmental mechanisms contribute to disease states, such as cancer. In this chapter, we describe the development of the peripheral sympathetic nervous system (PSNS) in general, and our current understanding of genetic pathways important in zebrafish PSNS development specifically. We also illustrate how zebrafish genetics is used to identify new mechanisms controlling PSNS development and methods for interrogating the potential role of PSNS developmental pathways in neuroblastoma pathogenesis in vivo using the zebrafish MYCN-driven neuroblastoma model.

Keywords: Adrenal; Autonomic; Chromaffin; Neural crest; Neuroblastoma; Phox2b; Sympathetic; Tyrosine hydroxylase; Zebrafish.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cytogenetic Analysis / methods*
  • Humans
  • Neuroblastoma / genetics*
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / cytology
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / growth & development
  • Zebrafish / genetics*
  • Zebrafish / growth & development