Moro, E., Vettori, A., Porazzi, P., Schiavone, M., Rampazzo, E., Casari, A., Ek, O., Facchinello, N., Astone, M., Zancan, I., Milanetto, M., Tiso, N., and Argenton, F. (2013) Generation and application of signaling pathway reporter lines in zebrafish. Molecular genetics and genomics : MGG. 288(5-6):231-242.
In the last years, we have seen the emergence of different tools that have changed the face of biology from a simple modeling level to a more systematic science. The transparent zebrafish embryo is one of the living models in which, after germline transformation with reporter protein-coding genes, specific fluorescent cell populations can be followed at single-cell resolution. The genetically modified embryos, larvae and adults, resulting from the transformation, are individuals in which time lapse analysis, digital imaging quantification, FACS sorting and next-generation sequencing can be performed in specific times and tissues. These multifaceted genetic and cellular approaches have permitted to dissect molecular interactions at the subcellular, intercellular, tissue and whole-animal level, thus allowing integration of cellular and developmental genetics with molecular imaging in the resulting frame of modern biology. In this review, we describe a new step in the zebrafish road to system biology, based on the use of transgenic biosensor animals expressing fluorescent proteins under the control of signaling pathway-responsive cis-elements. In particular, we provide here the rationale and details of this powerful tool, trying to focus on its huge potentialities in basic and applied research, while also discussing limits and potential technological evolutions of this approach.