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    Immediate early genes (IEGs) are transcription factors whose own transcription is initiated rapidly, for example, in the brain in response to environmental stimuli. c-fos is an IEG often used as a marker of neuronal activation. c-fos mRNA expression has started to be quantified and localized in the zebrafish brain following environmental manipulations but analysis of the expression of c-fos protein in the zebrafish brain has rarely been attempted. Here, we describe an immunofluorescence staining method for quantifying c-fos protein expression in different regions of the zebrafish brain. In addition, we expose zebrafish to caffeine, a positive control for c-fos activation in the brain. To confirm cell nucleus specific binding of the c-fos antibody, we counterstained brain sections with the nuclear fluorescent stain DAPI. Furthermore, we describe a method for reducing background autofluorescence often observed in zebrafish brain tissue. Our analysis showed that exposure to caffeine increased the number of c-fos protein-positive cells in specific zebrafish brain regions detected by the immunofluorescence method. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of immunofluorescence-based methods in the analysis of neuronal activation in the zebrafish brain, and reinforce the utility of the zebrafish in behavioral neuroscience research.


    Diptendu Chatterjee, Steven Tran, Soaleha Shams, Robert Gerlai. A Simple Method for Immunohistochemical Staining of Zebrafish Brain Sections for c-fos Protein Expression. Zebrafish. 2015 Dec;12(6):414-20

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    PMID: 26492550

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