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HOME > Research > Division of Molecular and Developmental Biology • Kawakami Group

Zebrafish is an excellent model vertebrate because of high fecundity, rapid embryonic development, transparency at the embryonic and larval stages. We identified an autonomous member from the medaka fish Tol2 transposable element, and developed a highly efficient transgenesis method for the first time in zebrafish. Further, we successfully developed the gene trap and enhancer trap methods and the Gal4-UAS method. By using these methods, we created a large number of transgenic fish that express the yeast Gal4 transcription activator in specific cells, tissues and organs. These transgenic fish are valuable resources for the studies of developmental biology and neuroscience. We are applying these methods to study functional neuronal circuits. Currently, we are analyzing the structure and function of specific neuronal circuits that regulate locomotion, learning and memory. Also, we visualize neuronal activity during animal’s behaviors by calcium imaging to identify functional neuronal circuits in the brain.

GFP expression in specific cells, tissues and organs by gene trapping and enhancer trapping. (upper, left) skeleton, (upper, right) cells on the skin, (lower, left) blood vessels, (lower, right) sensory neurons.


Muto, A., Ohkura, M., Abe, G., Nakai, J., and Kawakami, K. (2013). Real-Time Visualization of Neuronal Activity during Perception. Current Biology 23 , 307–311.

Muto, A., Ohkura, M., Kotani, T., Higashijima, S.-i., Nakai, J., and Kawakami, K. (2011).Genetic visualization with an improved GCaMP calcium indicator reveals spatiotemporal activation of the spinal motor neurons in zebrafish. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108 , 5425-5430.

Asakawa, K., Suster, M.L., Mizusawa, K., Nagayoshi, S., Kotani, T., Urasaki, A., Kishimoto, Y., Hibi, M., and Kawakami, K. (2008). Genetic dissection of neural circuits by Tol2 transposon-mediated Gal4 gene and enhancer trapping in zebrafish. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105 , 1255-1260.