kawakami lab
The genetic basis of development and behaviors in zebrafish

zebrafishZebrafish is an excellent model vertebrate because of high fecundity, rapid embryonic development, transparency at the embryonic stages and inexpensive and easy breeding procedures. However, neither an efficient transgenesis method nor a transposon technology had not been developed before 2000. We demonstrated that the medaka fish Tol2 element is an active transposon in vertebrate cells, and developed the highly efficient transgenesis method, the gene trap and enhancer trap methods and the Gal4-UAS method in zebrafish. By using these methods, we have generated a large number of transgenic fish that express the GFP reporter gene or the yeast Gal4 transcription activator in specific cells, tissues and organs. These transgenic fish are valuable for studies of developmental biology and neuroscience and we have conducted numerous collaborations with researchers all over the world. Currently we are interetsed in molecular and cellular bases of animal behaviors. Taking advantages of genetic methods and the transgenic fish resources, we visualize specific neural circuits, inhibit their functions and analyze their activities by calcium imaging. Thus, the studies to unveil functional neural circuits that control complex animal behaviors including learning & memory are currently ongoing.