Novel Insights into the Genetic Controls of Primitive and Definitive Hematopoiesis from Zebrafish Models

Oncogenesis and Development Section, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
Advances in Hematology 07/2012; 2012:830703. DOI: 10.1155/2012/830703
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Hematopoiesis is a dynamic process where initiation and maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells, as well as their differentiation into erythroid, myeloid and lymphoid lineages, are tightly regulated by a network of transcription factors. Understanding the genetic controls of hematopoiesis is crucial as perturbations in hematopoiesis lead to diseases such as anemia, thrombocytopenia, or cancers, including leukemias and lymphomas. Animal models, particularly conventional and conditional knockout mice, have played major roles in our understanding of the genetic controls of hematopoiesis. However, knockout mice for most of the hematopoietic transcription factors are embryonic lethal, thus precluding the analysis of their roles during the transition from embryonic to adult hematopoiesis. Zebrafish are an ideal model organism to determine the function of a gene during embryonic-to-adult transition of hematopoiesis since bloodless zebrafish embryos can develop normally into early larval stage by obtaining oxygen through diffusion. In this review, we discuss the current status of the ontogeny and regulation of hematopoiesis in zebrafish. By providing specific examples of zebrafish morphants and mutants, we have highlighted the contributions of the zebrafish model to our overall understanding of the roles of transcription factors in regulation of primitive and definitive hematopoiesis.

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