Observing mitotic division and dynamics in a live zebrafish embryo

Academic Article


  • Mitosis is critical for organismal growth and differentiation. The process is highly dynamic and requires ordered events to accomplish proper chromatin condensation, microtubule-kinetochore attachment, chromosome segregation, and cytokinesis in a small time frame. Errors in the delicate process can result in human disease, including birth defects and cancer. Traditional approaches investigating human mitotic disease states often rely on cell culture systems, which lack the natural physiology and developmental/tissue-specific context advantageous when studying human disease. This protocol overcomes many obstacles by providing a way to visualize, with high resolution, chromosome dynamics in a vertebrate system, the zebrafish. This protocol will detail an approach that can be used to obtain dynamic images of dividing cells, which include: in vitro transcription, zebrafish breeding/collecting, embryo embedding, and time-lapse imaging. Optimization and modifications of this protocol are also explored. Using H2A.F/Z-EGFP (labels chromatin) and mCherry-CAAX (labels cell membrane) mRNA-injected embryos, mitosis in AB wild-type, auroraBhi1045, and esco2hi2865 mutant zebrafish is visualized. High resolution live imaging in zebrafish allows one to observe multiple mitoses to statistically quantify mitotic defects and timing of mitotic progression. In addition, observation of qualitative aspects that define improper mitotic processes (i.e., congression defects, missegregation of chromosomes, etc.) and improper chromosomal outcomes (i.e., aneuploidy, polyploidy, micronuclei, etc.) are observed. This assay can be applied to the observation of tissue differentiation/ development and is amenable to the use of mutant zebrafish and pharmacological agents. Visualization of how defects in mitosis lead to cancer and developmental disorders will greatly enhance understanding of the pathogenesis of disease.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Percival SM; Parant JM
  • Volume

  • 2016
  • Issue

  • 113