Author(s): Gerlach GF, Schrader LN, Wingert RA
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Abstract Researchers working in the burgeoning field of adult stem cell biology seek to understand the signals that regulate the behavior and function of stem cells during normal homeostasis and disease states. The understanding of adult stem cells has broad reaching implications for the future of regenerative medicine. For example, better knowledge about adult stem cell biology can facilitate the design of therapeutic strategies in which organs are triggered to heal themselves or even the creation of methods for growing organs in vitro that can be transplanted into humans. The zebrafish has become a powerful animal model for the study of vertebrate cell biology. There has been extensive documentation and analysis of embryonic development in the zebrafish. Only recently have scientists sought to document adult anatomy and surgical dissection techniques, as there has been a progressive movement within the zebrafish community to broaden the applications of this research organism to adult studies. For example, there are expanding interests in using zebrafish to investigate the biology of adult stem cell populations and make sophisticated adult models of diseases such as cancer. Historically, isolation of the zebrafish adult kidney has been instrumental for studying hematopoiesis, as the kidney is the anatomical location of blood cell production in fish. The kidney is composed of nephron functional units found in arborized arrangements, surrounded by hematopoietic tissue that is dispersed throughout the intervening spaces. The hematopoietic component consists of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and their progeny that inhabit the kidney until they terminally differentiate. In addition, it is now appreciated that a group of renal stem/progenitor cells (RPCs) also inhabit the zebrafish kidney organ and enable both kidney regeneration and growth, as observed in other fish species. In light of this new discovery, the zebrafish kidney is one organ that houses the location of two exciting opportunities for adult stem cell biology studies. It is clear that many outstanding questions could be well served with this experimental system. To encourage expansion of this field, it is beneficial to document detailed methods of visualizing and then isolating the adult zebrafish kidney organ. This protocol details our procedure for dissection of the adult kidney from both unfixed and fixed animals. Dissection of the kidney organ can be used to isolate and characterize hematopoietic and renal stem cells and their offspring using established techniques such as histology, fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS), expression profiling, and transplantation. We hope that dissemination of this protocol will provide researchers with the knowledge to implement broader use of zebrafish studies that ultimately can be translated for human application.
This article was published in J Vis Exp
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy