Transgenics and the use of wild-types

We have approximately 400 transgenic fish lines within the aquarium.

Transgenes are usually used to visualise a biological structure or process within an organism that can be studied in vivo. Fluorescent proteins are particularly useful. Green-fluorescent protein, for instance, is a jellyfish protein that has been extensively used to highlight the protein of interest in the biological process being studied.

A transgene is a gene or genetic material that has been transferred naturally, or by any of a number of genetic engineering techniques from one organism to another.

The use of certain wild-type lines helps researchers to visualise transgenes in vivo. Most wild-type strains are derived from zebrafish that can be purchased in pet shops. There are Nacre, Casper, Long-tailed (TL)  as well as the ‘standard’ zebrafish termed e.g AB and London wild-type (LWT), which have the classic stripes. The final wild-type lines have been recently derived from wild caught fish, such as WIK. The lack of pigmentation in the Nacre and Casper strains enable fluorescent proteins to be seen more clearly under a microscope. Long tailed strains have longer fins easier to fin clip, which may be taken for genotyping purposes.

Certain transgenic lines that express fluorescent proteins are visible in embryos between 1 and 5 days old under a microscope. These fluorescent proteins can be used to track changes in developmental processes and different coloured fluorescent proteins can be used in the same fish to further illustrate cellular processes in vivo.