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Engerer, Peter; Plucinska, Gabriela; Thong, Rachel; Trovò, Laura; Paquet, Dominik and Godinho, Leanne (2016): Imaging Subcellular Structures in the Living Zebrafish Embryo. In: Jove-Journal of Visualized Experiments, No. 110, e53456

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In vivo imaging provides unprecedented access to the dynamic behavior of cellular and subcellular structures in their natural context. Performing such imaging experiments in higher vertebrates such as mammals generally requires surgical access to the system under study. The optical accessibility of embryonic and larval zebrafish allows such invasive procedures to be circumvented and permits imaging in the intact organism. Indeed the zebrafish is now a well-established model to visualize dynamic cellular behaviors using in vivo microscopy in a wide range of developmental contexts from proliferation to migration and differentiation. A more recent development is the increasing use of zebrafish to study subcellular events including mitochondrial trafficking and centrosome dynamics. The relative ease with which these subcellular structures can be genetically labeled by fluorescent proteins and the use of light microscopy techniques to image them is transforming the zebrafish into an in vivo model of cell biology. Here we describe methods to generate genetic constructs that fluorescently label organelles, highlighting mitochondria and centrosomes as specific examples. We use the bipartite Gal4-UAS system in multiple configurations to restrict expression to specific cell-types and provide protocols to generate transiently expressing and stable transgenic fish. Finally, we provide guidelines for choosing light microscopy methods that are most suitable for imaging subcellular dynamics.

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