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1.  Evaluation of zebrafish as a model to study the pathogenesis of the opportunistic pathogen Cronobacter turicensis 
Bacteria belonging to the genus Cronobacter spp. have been recognized as causative agents of life-threatening systemic infections, primarily in premature, low-birth weight and/or immune-compromised neonates. Knowledge remains scarce regarding the underlying molecular mechanisms of disease development. In this study, we evaluated the use of a zebrafish model to study the pathogenesis of Cronobacter turicensis LMG 23827T, a clinical isolate responsible for two fatal sepsis cases in neonates. Here, the microinjection of approximately 50 colony forming units (CFUs) into the yolk sac resulted in the rapid multiplication of bacteria and dissemination into the blood stream at 24 h post infection (hpi), followed by the development of a severe bacteremia and larval death within 3 days. In contrast, the innate immune response of the embryos was sufficiently developed to control infection after the intravenous injection of up to 104 CFUs of bacteria. Infection studies using an isogenic mutant devoid of surviving and replicating in human macrophages (ΔfkpA) showed that this strain was highly attenuated in its ability to kill the larvae. In addition, the suitability of the zebrafish model system to study the effectiveness of antibiotics to treat Cronobacter infections in zebrafish embryos was examined. Our data indicate that the zebrafish model represents an excellent vertebrate model to study virulence-related aspects of this opportunistic pathogen in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4451267  PMID: 26060602
Cronobacter turicensis; pathogenesis; zebrafish model
2.  The Visual System of Zebrafish and its Use to Model Human Ocular Diseases 
Developmental Neurobiology  2012;72(3):302-327.
Free swimming zebrafish larvae depend mainly on their sense of vision to evade predation and to catch prey. Hence there is strong selective pressure on the fast maturation of visual function and indeed the visual system already supports a number of visually-driven behaviors in the newly hatched larvae. The ability to exploit the genetic and embryonic accessibility of the zebrafish in combination with a behavioral assessment of visual system function has made the zebrafish a popular model to study vision and its diseases. Here, we review the anatomy, physiology and development of the zebrafish eye as the basis to relate the contributions of the zebrafish to our understanding of human ocular diseases.
PMCID: PMC3202066  PMID: 21595048
zebrafish; eye; anterior segment; retina; lens; photoreceptor; glaucoma; myopia; coloboma; holoprosencephaly
3.  Phylogenetic analysis of the vertebrate Excitatory/Neutral Amino Acid Transporter (SLC1/EAAT) family reveals lineage specific subfamilies 
The composition and expression of vertebrate gene families is shaped by species specific gene loss in combination with a number of gene and genome duplication events (R1, R2 in all vertebrates, R3 in teleosts) and depends on the ecological and evolutionary context. In this study we analyzed the evolutionary history of the solute carrier 1 (SLC1) gene family. These genes are supposed to be under strong selective pressure (purifying selection) due to their important role in the timely removal of glutamate at the synapse.
In a genomic survey where we manually annotated and analyzing sequences from more than 300 SLC1 genes (from more than 40 vertebrate species), we found evidence for an interesting evolutionary history of this gene family. While human and mouse genomes contain 7 SLC1 genes, in prototheria, sauropsida, and amphibia genomes up to 9 and in actinopterygii up to 13 SLC1 genes are present. While some of the additional slc1 genes in ray-finned fishes originated from R3, the increased number of SLC1 genes in prototheria, sauropsida, and amphibia genomes originates from specific genes retained in these lineages.
Phylogenetic comparison and microsynteny analyses of the SLC1 genes indicate, that theria genomes evidently lost several SLC1 genes still present in the other lineage. The genes lost in theria group into two new subfamilies of the slc1 gene family which we named slc1a8/eaat6 and slc1a9/eaat7.
The phylogeny of the SLC1/EAAT gene family demonstrates how multiple genome reorganization and duplication events can influence the number of active genes. Inactivation and preservation of specific SLC1 genes led to the complete loss of two subfamilies in extant theria, while other vertebrates have retained at least one member of two newly identified SLC1 subfamilies.
PMCID: PMC2873418  PMID: 20429920
4.  Visual acuity in larval zebrafish: behavior and histology 
Visual acuity, the ability of the visual system to distinguish two separate objects at a given angular distance, is influenced by the optical and neuronal properties of the visual system. Although many factors may contribute, the ultimate limit is photoreceptor spacing. In general, at least one unstimulated photoreceptor flanked by two stimulated ones is needed to perceive two objects as separate. This critical interval is also referred to as the Nyquist frequency and is according to the Shannon sampling theorem the highest spatial frequency where a pattern can be faithfully transmitted. We measured visual acuity in a behavioral experiment and compared the data to the physical limit given by photoreceptor spacing in zebrafish larvae.
We determined visual acuity by using the optokinetic response (OKR), reflexive eye movements in response to whole field movements of the visual scene. By altering the spatial frequency we determined the visual acuity at approximately 0.16 cycles/degree (cpd) (minimum separable angle = 3.1°). On histological sections we measured the retinal magnification factor and the distance between double cones, that are thought to mediate motion perception. These measurements set the physical limit at 0.24 cpd (2.1°).
The maximal spatial information as limited by photoreceptor spacing can not be fully utilized in a motion dependent visual behavior, arguing that the larval zebrafish visual system has not matured enough to optimally translate visual information into behavior. Nevertheless behavioral acuity is remarkable close to its maximal value, given the immature state of young zebrafish larvae.
PMCID: PMC2848032  PMID: 20193078

Results 1-4 (4)