Multicolor lineage tracing using in vivo time-lapse imaging reveals coordinated death of clonally related cells in the developing vertebrate brain. uri icon


  • The global mechanisms that regulate and potentially coordinate cell proliferation & death in developing neural regions are not well understood. In particular, it is not clear how or whether clonal relationships between neural progenitor cells and their progeny influence the growing brain. We have developed an approach using Brainbow in the developing zebrafish to visualize and follow multiple clones of related cells in vivo over time. This allows for clear visualization of many dividing clones of cells, deep in proliferating brain regions. As expected, in addition to undergoing interkinetic nuclear migration and cell division, cells also periodically undergo apoptosis. Interestingly, cell death occurs in a non-random manner: clonally related cells are more likely to die in a progressive fashion than cells from different clones. Multiple members of an individual clone die while neighboring clones appear healthy and continue to divide. Our results suggest that clonal relationships can influence cellular fitness and survival in the developing nervous system, perhaps through a competitive mechanism whereby clones of cells are competing with other clones. Clonal cell competition may help regulate neuronal proliferation in the vertebrate brain.

publication date

  • September 15, 2019