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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, and 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 in zebrafish for the first time. 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 serve as valuable resources for the studies of developmental biology and neuroscience. We have applied 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.

Asakawa, K., Abe, G., and Kawakami, K. (2013). Cellular dissection of the spinal cord motor column by BAC transgenesis and gene trapping in zebrafish. Front Neural Circuits 7 , 100.

Wada, H., Ghysen, A., Asakawa, K., Abe, G., Ishitani, T., and Kawakami, K. (2013). Wnt/Dkk negative feedback regulates sensory organ size in zebrafish. Current Biology 23 , 1559-1565.