• bone formation;
  • osteoblast;
  • osterix;
  • medaka;
  • transgenic fish;
  • life imaging


Intramembranous and chondral bone formation by osteoblasts is found in all vertebrates. The genetic network controlling osteoblast differentiation is highly conserved and regulated by a small number of key factors, including the zinc-finger transcription factor Osterix. Expression analysis of osterix in the teleost model medaka revealed a highly restricted expression in skeletal regions. For in vivo imaging, we generated transgenic medaka expressing mCherry under control of the osterix promoter. We show that the transgene becomes expressed in early osteoblasts, which have not yet mineralized bone matrix, and remains high in matured and mineralizing osteoblasts. Life imaging of transgenic larvae provided insight into the appearance and behavior of early osteoblasts during development of the teleost cranium, vertebrae, and caudal fin. In summary, osterix-mCherry transgenic medaka enable us to analyze osteoblasts during different maturation phases in vivo and represent a unique tool to study osteoblast behavior in vertebrate embryos and adults. Developmental Dynamics 238:241–248, 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.