In Toto Imaging of Dynamic Osteoblast Behaviors in Regenerating Skeletal Bone

Curr Biol. 2018 Dec 17;28(24):3937-3947.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.10.052. Epub 2018 Nov 29.


Osteoblasts are matrix-depositing cells that can divide and heal bone injuries. Their deep-tissue location and the slow progression of bone regeneration challenge attempts to capture osteoblast behaviors in live tissue at high spatiotemporal resolution. Here, we have developed an imaging platform to monitor and quantify individual and collective behaviors of osteoblasts in adult zebrafish scales, skeletal body armor discs that regenerate rapidly after loss. Using a panel of transgenic lines that visualize and manipulate osteoblasts, we find that a founder pool of osteoblasts emerges through de novo differentiation within one day of scale plucking. These osteoblasts undergo division events that are largely uniform in frequency and orientation to establish a primordium. Osteoblast proliferation dynamics diversify across the primordium by two days after injury, with cell divisions focused near, and with orientations parallel to, the scale periphery, occurring coincident with dynamic localization of fgf20a gene expression. In posterior scale regions, cell elongation events initiate in areas soon occupied by mineralized grooves called radii, beginning approximately 2 days post injury, with patterned osteoblast death events accompanying maturation of these radii. By imaging at single-cell resolution, we detail acquisition of spatiotemporally distinct cell division, motility, and death dynamics within a founder osteoblast pool as bone regenerates.

Keywords: bone; differentiation; fibroblast growth factor; live imaging; osteoblast; proliferation; regeneration; scale; zebrafish.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Bone Regeneration / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Optical Imaging / methods*
  • Osteoblasts / physiology*
  • Single-Cell Analysis / methods*
  • Zebrafish / physiology*