Single-cell analyses reveal early thymic progenitors and pre-B cells in zebrafish

Sara A Rubin, Chloé S Baron, Cecilia Pessoa Rodrigues, Madeleine Duran, Alexandra F Corbin, Song P Yang, Cole Trapnell, Leonard I Zon
Journal of Experimental Medicine (2022)


The zebrafish has proven to be a valuable model organism for studying hematopoiesis, but relatively little is known about zebrafish immune cell development and functional diversity. Elucidating key aspects of zebrafish lymphocyte development and exploring the breadth of effector functions would provide valuable insight into the evolution of adaptive immunity. We performed single-cell RNA sequencing on ∼70,000 cells from the zebrafish marrow and thymus to establish a gene expression map of zebrafish immune cell development. We uncovered rich cellular diversity in the juvenile and adult zebrafish thymus, elucidated B- and T-cell developmental trajectories, and transcriptionally characterized subsets of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and early thymic progenitors. Our analysis permitted the identification of two dendritic-like cell populations and provided evidence in support of the existence of a pre-B cell state. Our results provide critical insights into the landscape of zebrafish immunology and offer a foundation for cellular and genetic studies.

** corresponding authors