Visualizing the Developing Brain in Living Zebrafish using Brainbow and Time-lapse Confocal Imaging. uri icon


  • Development of the vertebrate nervous system requires a precise coordination of complex cellular behaviors and interactions. The use of high resolution in vivo imaging techniques can provide a clear window into these processes in the living organism. For example, dividing cells and their progeny can be followed in real time as the nervous system forms. In recent years, technical advances in multicolor techniques have expanded the types of questions that can be investigated. The multicolor Brainbow approach can be used to not only distinguish among like cells, but also to color-code multiple different clones of related cells that each derive from one progenitor cell. This allows for a multiplex lineage analysis of many different clones and their behaviors simultaneously during development. Here we describe a technique for using time-lapse confocal microscopy to visualize large numbers of multicolor Brainbow-labeled cells over real time within the developing zebrafish nervous system. This is particularly useful for following cellular interactions among like cells, which are difficult to label differentially using traditional promoter-driven colors. Our approach can be used for tracking lineage relationships among multiple different clones simultaneously. The large datasets generated using this technique provide rich information that can be compared quantitatively across genetic or pharmacological manipulations. Ultimately the results generated can help to answer systematic questions about how the nervous system develops.

publication date

  • March 23, 2020