Zebrafish (Danio rerio) has been a widely used vertebrate animal model in developmental biology and genetics as well as in the context of human diseases. Adult zebrafish can produce more than 100 eggs per day and also allow for microscopic and molecular manipulation and examination due to transparency of the embryos and presence of online sources of functional genomics. Zebrafish has recently been introduced as a cancer model because of the similarities between zebrafish and human genomes and signaling pathways (p53, ATM, and WNT signaling). Thousands of mutant and transgenic strains of zebrafish make possible to test gene function in vivo and also generate animal models for selected disases, one of which is hepatocellular carcinoma. Easy of performing toxicology and drug screens make zebrafish the model of choice in high-throughput studies.
The Bilkent University Zebrafish Facility has been established as a component of KANILTEK now BILGEN in 2008 and is located within the Molecular Biology and Genetics Department at Bilkent University. The facility contains a 30 m2 main breeding room and a 10 m2 quarantine/treatment room that altogether are capable to house two separate ZebTec systems with a total of 15 8lt and 40 3.5lt tanks. The facility also contains a fully equipped molecular biology laboratoy and microscopy room in which two research quality stereomicroscopes and a 28°C incubators are located. The facility employs a part-time veterinerian and a part-time technical assistant who assist with the facility maintenance and fish breeding. Two graduate students at the moment also take part in maintenance, feeding, and research activities.
Research interests of the faculty using the BILGEN Zebrafish Facility include comparative liver cancer development and progression, TOR signaling, evolution of cell signaling, zebrafish functional genomics, and toxicology/drug screening.