Chinese Researchers Release Zebrafish Gene Knockout Results

BEIJING, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers reported that they have performed a systematic knockout of the genes on Chromosome 1 in zebrafish.

The completed resource has been made open to other researchers online and is expected to power studies of gene activity in models of human disease.

Zebrafish, a tropical fish about 2.5 cm to 4 cm long, is an ideal model for studying human genetics and disease due to its similar genetic structure to humans.

The complete genome sequence of zebrafish was published in 2013. Scientists have found that zebrafish share 70 percent of genes with humans, and 84 percent of genes associated with human diseases have a zebrafish counterpart.

Researchers from 24 Chinese research institutes on zebrafish reported in the journal Genome Research that with CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology, they successfully knocked out 1,029 genes of 1,333 genes on Chromosome 1 in zebrafish, and found 1,039 alleles corresponding to 636 genes that can be genetically passed to offspring.

An allele refers to an alternative form of a gene, meaning that there is a mutation at the same place on a chromosome.

They found that nearly one-fourth of all mutant genes are related to human diseases.

The researchers said that their study generated the first chromosome-wide collection of zebrafish genetic mutants by the CRISPR/Cas9 technology, and the results will serve as a valuable resource for the research community.

The results are available on the China Zebrafish Resource Center website (http://www.zfish.cn/TargetList.aspx).