Zebrafish transgenic lines are important experimental tools for lineage tracing and imaging studies. It is crucial to precisely characterize the cell lineages labeled in transgenic lines to understand their limitations and thus properly interpret the data obtained from their use; only then can we confidently select a line appropriate for our particular research objectives. Here we profiled the cell lineages labeled in the closely related neural crest transgenic lines Tg(foxd3:GFP), Tg(sox10:eGFP) and Tg(sox10:mRFP). These fish were crossed to generate embryos, in which foxd3 and sox10 transgenic neural crest labeling could be directly compared at the cellular level using live confocal imaging. We have identified key differences in the cell lineages labeled in each line during early neural crest development and demonstrated that the most anterior cranial neural crest cells initially migrating out of neural tube at the level of forebrain and anterior midbrain express sox10:eGFP and sox10:mRFP, but not foxd3:GFP. This differential profile was robustly maintained in the differentiating progeny of the neural crest lineages until 3.5dpf. Our data will enable researchers to make an informed choice in selecting transgenic lines for future neural crest research.
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