Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Live imaging of scoliosis-like disorder developing in the zebrafish

18 March 2020

Fish Bones

Scoliosis – a kinking deformity of the spine – affects a few percent of people, typically starting around puberty, and in some getting progressively worse. Researchers investigate the mechanisms behind scoliosis using zebrafish, who like us, develop a spine from a structure called the notochord. Notochord cells contain large fluid sacs called vacuoles, which are thought to provide a scaffold for spine formation. In this study, the team identified a mutation in a gene called dstyk in zebrafish that causes these vacuoles to fragment, resulting in spine defects similar to scoliosis, as shown by 3D micro-CT of mutant zebrafish skeletons (pictured). Live-imaging of developing mutant and normal zebrafish revealed that dstyk is needed for small sacs in notochord cells to fuse together to form the large vacuoles that support spine development. These insights bring us a step closer to understanding spine development.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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