Visualizing ocular morphogenesis by lightsheet microscopy using rx3:Gfp transgenic zebrafish

Rebecca A. Petersen, Ann C. Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vertebrate eye development is a complex process that begins near the end of embryo gastrulation and requires the precise coordination of cell migration, proliferation, and differentiation. Time-lapse imagining offers unique insight to the behavior of cells during eye development because it allows us to visualize oculogenesis in vivo. Zebrafish are an excellent model to visualize this process due to their highly conserved vertebrate eye and their ability to develop rapidly and externally while remaining optically transparent. Time-lapse imaging studies of zebrafish eye development are greatly facilitated by use of the transgenic zebrafish line Tg(rx3:GFP). In the developing forebrain, rx3:GFP expression marks the cells of the single eye field, and GFP continues to be expressed as the eye field evaginates to form an optic vesicle, which then invaginates to form an optic cup. High resolution time lapse imaging of rx3:GFP expression, therefore, allows us to track the eye primordium through time as it develops into the retina. Lightsheet microscopy is an ideal method to image ocular morphogenesis over time due to its ability to penetrate thicker samples for fluorescent imaging, minimize photobleaching and phototoxicity, and image at a high speed. Here, a protocol is provided for timelapse imaging of ocular morphogenesis using a commercially available lightsheet microscope and an image processing workstation to analyze the resulting data. This protocol details the procedures for embryo anesthesia, embedding in low melting temperature agarose, suspension in the imaging chamber, setting up the imaging parameters, and finally analyzing the imaging data using image analysis software. The resulting dataset can provide valuable insights into the process of ocular morphogenesis, as well as perturbations to this process as a result of genetic mutation, exposure to pharmacological agents, or other experimental manipulations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere62296
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number170
StatePublished - Apr 5 2021

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 JoVE Creative Commons Attribution.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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