Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of cardiac development and regeneration will improve diagnostic and therapeutic interventions against heart disease. In this direction, zebrafish is an excellent model because several processes of zebrafish heart development are largely conserved in humans, and zebrafish has several advantages as a model organism. Zebrafish transcriptomic profiles undergo alterations during different stages of cardiac development and regeneration which are revealed by RNA-sequencing. ChIP-sequencing has detected genome-wide occupancy of histone post-translational modifications that epigenetically regulate gene expression and identified a locus with enhancer-like characteristics. ATAC-sequencing has identified active enhancers in cardiac progenitor cells during early developmental stages which overlap with occupancy of histone modifications of active transcription as determined by ChIP-sequencing. CRISPR-mediated editing of the zebrafish genome shows how chromatin modifiers and DNA-binding proteins regulate heart development, in association with crucial signaling pathways. Hence, more studies in this direction are essential to improve human health because they answer fundamental questions on cardiac development and regeneration, their differences, and why zebrafish hearts regenerate upon injury, unlike humans. This review focuses on some of the latest studies using state-of-the-art technology enabled by the elegant yet simple zebrafish.
Keywords: ATAC-seq; CRISPR; ChIP-seq; cardiac development; epigenetic; epigenetics; high-throughput; regeneration; transcriptome; transgenic reporter.