The relevance of fish research has been rising due to the expansion of aquaculture and to the increasing use of fish as replacements for mammals in the study of human physiological and pathological issues. Fish have much smaller genomes compared to mammals, and zebrafish, fugu, medaka and spotted green puffer fish have the sequence of their genomes completed or near completion. Fish have several of the virtues of Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans for apoptosis research, but offer additional advantages because they are vertebrates and have a developed immune system and apoptotic pathways similar to those of mammals. Many phenotypes in the zebrafish resemble human diseases and this fish has been increasingly used in pharmaceutical design of apoptosis modulating drugs. The roles of microRNAs, bcl-2, p53, insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-3, and cellular apoptosis susceptibility (CAS) and c-Myc genes (involved in the interaction apoptosis/cancer), and Aβ peptides, presenilin enhancer 2, cyclin-dependent kinase 5 and tau (factors with relevant roles in apoptosis-associated human neurodegenerative disorders), have also been successfully investigated in fish models. Results of research with fish that have advanced the knowledge on the participation of apoptosis in viral infections and of apoptosis and secondary necrosis in bacterial infections are also reviewed. It is expectable that the use of fish for research on apoptosisrelated issues relevant for human physiology and pathology and for the design of apoptosis-modulating drugs will continue to increase.
Keywords: Fish, apoptosis, infection, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, drug design
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