Species in News: Zebrafish


  • Zebrafish – a tiny freshwater fish barely 2-3 cm long can efficiently regenerate its damaged heart within a short time period. Found in South Asia, it is a popular aquarium fish, frequently sold under the trade name Danio. Now, scientists at Pune-based Agharkar Research Institute have used this tiny animal model and identified genes that can promote heart regeneration.

Gene that promotes heart regeneration identified

  • Scientists used this tiny fish to identify genes/proteins that promote heart regeneration and its working model. Years of efforts have helped them identify the cellular communication network factor 2a (ccn2a), a gene that can promote heart regeneration by enhancing cardiomyocyte proliferation.
  • Ccn2a promotes the innate regenerative response of the adult zebrafish heart and maybe a promising therapeutic target for humans.
  • Now they have identified the gene, which can promote heart regeneration. This gene enhances the proliferation of functional contractile heart cells called cardiomyocytes. They have also observed that this gene resolves the transient collagenous fibrotic scar resulting in faster regeneration.

About Zebrafish, a suitable research model

  • Zebrafish is a small (2-3 cm long) freshwater fish found in the tropical and subtropical regions.
  • The fish is native to South Asia’s Indo-Gangetic plains, where they are mostly found in the paddy fields and even in stagnant water and streams.
  • The fish become adults at three months and survive 2-3 years in a laboratory condition.
  • This fish’s unique characteristics lie in its transparency during its embryonic stages, allowing observing all organs, including beating heart and blood circulation.
  • A zebrafish attracts developmental biologists due to its adequate regeneration capacity of almost all its organs, including the brain, heart, eye, spinal cord.
  • This makes it a suitable research model for biomedical scientists.
  • Agharkar Research Institute has a state-of-art zebrafish housing where thousands of zebrafish are maintained (28 degrees Celsius water temperature with physiological water pH and conductance)are bred regularly.

Source: Indian Express

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