The zebrafish has become a standard model system for stem cell and tissue regeneration research, based on powerful genetics, high tissue regenerative capacity and low maintenance costs. Yet, these studies can be challenged by current limitations of tissue visualization techniques in adult animals. Here we describe new imaging methodology and present several ubiquitous and tissue-specific luciferase-based transgenic lines, which we have termed zebraflash, that facilitate the assessment of regeneration and engraftment in freely moving adult zebrafish. We show that luciferase-based live imaging reliably estimates muscle quantity in an internal organ, the heart, and can longitudinally follow cardiac regeneration in individual animals after major injury. Furthermore, luciferase-based detection enables visualization and quantification of engraftment in live recipients of transplanted hematopoietic stem cell progeny, with advantages in sensitivity and gross spatial resolution over fluorescence detection. Our findings present a versatile resource for monitoring and dissecting vertebrate stem cell and regeneration biology.
- Accepted September 19, 2013.