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Volume 6, Pages 65-81
Research Article

Two Different Transgenes to Study Gene Silencing and Re-Expression During Zebrafish Caudal Fin and Retinal Regeneration

Center for Zebrafish Research and Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, Indiana, USA

Received 7 July 2006; Revised 16 November 2006; Accepted 29 November 2006

Academic Editor: Marie-Andree Akimenko

Copyright © 2006 Ryan Thummel et al.


We used the 500-bp Xenopusef1-α promoter and the 2-kb zebrafish histone 2A.F/Z promoter to generate several independent transgenic zebrafish lines expressing EGFP. While both promoters drive ubiquitous EGFP expression in early zebrafish development, they are systematically silenced in several adult tissues, including the retina and caudal fin. However, EGFP expression is temporarily renewed in the adult during either caudal fin or retinal regeneration. In the Tg(H2A.F/Z:EGFP)nt line, EGFP is moderately expressed in both the wound epithelium and blastema of the regenerating caudal fin. In the Tg(ef1-α:EGFP)nt line, EGFP expression is reinitiated and restricted to the blastema of the regenerating caudal fin and colabels with BrdU, PCNA, and msxc-positive cells. Thus, these two ubiquitous promoters drive EGFP transgene expression in different cell populations during caudal fin regeneration. We further analyzed the ability of the ef1-α:EGFP transgene to label nonterminally differentiated cells during adult tissue regeneration. First, we demonstrated that the transgene is highly methylated in adult zebrafish caudal fin tissue, but not during fin regeneration, implicating methylation as a potential means of transgene silencing in this line. Next, we determined that the ef1-α:EGFP transgene is also re-expressed during adult retinal regeneration. Specifically, the ef1-α:EGFP transgene colabels with PCNA in the Müglia, a specialized cell that is the source of neuronal progenitors during zebrafish retinal regeneration. Thus, we concluded that Tg(ef1-α:EGFP)nt line visually marks nonterminally differentiated cells in multiple adult regeneration environments and may prove to be a useful marker in tissue regeneration studies in zebrafish.