- Zebrafish core facility
Zebrafish Core Facility
The Zebrafish Core Facility (ZCF) has existed since 2012. It is a licensed breeding and research facility (District Veterinary Inspectorate in Warsaw registry no. PL14656251; Ministry of Science and Higher Education record no. 064 and 051). The facility was established to introduce a new vertebrate model to research that is conducted at IIMCB. Moreover, as a first in Poland, the ZCF joined the prestigious European Society for Fish Models in Biology and Medicine (EuFishBioMed) and is registered in the Zebrafish Model Organism Database (ZFIN).
Zebrafish is a small (3-5 cm) tropical freshwater fish. Thanks to its high genetic similarity to humans, very short reproduction cycle and generation of transparent embryos, zebrafish is an excellent model for biomedical research. Moreover, the access to experimental manipulations, extensive collection of mutant/transgenic animals, and low maintenance cost make zebrafish an attractive alternative to mammalian in vivo models and can be used to implement the “3R” principles (reduction, replacement, and refinement). Our zebrafish collection consists of wildtype and genetically modified lines. Numerous zebrafish mutants were generated using methods that are based on engineered endonucleases, such as transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) and the bacterial type II clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated (Cas) system. Among the ZCF collection are animals that express modified genes that are involved in the mTOR signaling pathway, mitochondrial processes, heart development, and neurodegenerative disorders. The ZCF and research groups use zebrafish in innovative projects on genetics, developmental biology, and molecular mechanisms of human diseases. ZCF offer the service for IIMCB researchers and external users, including research groups from the Centre of New Technologies at the University of Warsaw, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Medical University of Lublin, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, University of Wroclaw, and Institute of Industrial Organic Chemistry in Pszczyna. Additionally, because of our international reputation and scientific collaborations, we export fish lines to European and American scientific institutes.
Maintaining such a large number of fish would not be possible without a suitable infrastructure. Our fish are currently housed in 1,210 tanks (eight independent, automated aquatic systems). Moreover, the ZCF is equipped with incubators, microscopes and microinjection systems for zebrafish embryos. Additionally, ZCF users have at their disposal a laboratory that is dedicated to behavioral testing. The room is equipped with automated systems for observations and the tracking of larval and adult zebrafish. The ZCF also performs sperm freezing and in vitro fertilization to guarantee the preservation of zebrafish genetic lines. The zebrafish diagnostic and health service is conducted by an IIMCB veterinarian (an expert in the aquatic field and tropical fish diseases) in cooperation with an external zebrafish diagnostic laboratory, which allows us to constantly monitor the health status of the fish colony and maintain the highest standards of animal welfare.
Scientists who use zebrafish for research purposes are obligated by law (Act of 15 January 2015 on the Protection of Animals Used for Scientific or Educational Purposes) to possess appropriate qualifications to work with an animal model. All of the research and breeding activities at the ZCF are performed in compliance with fundamental ethical principles (Act of 15 January 2015 and European/International guidelines on animal welfare, including Directive 2010/63/EU on the Protection of Animals Used for Scientific Purposes and the instructions of the Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Associations [FELASA]).