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The renin–angiotensin system (RAS) is highly conserved, and components of the RAS are present in all vertebrates to some degree. Although the RAS has been studied since the discovery of renin, its biological role continues to broaden with the identification and characterization of new peptides. The evolutionarily distant zebrafish is a remarkable model for studying the kidney due to its genetic tractability and accessibility for in vivo imaging. The zebrafish pronephros is an especially useful kidney model due to its structural simplicity yet complex functionality, including capacity for glomerular and tubular filtration. Both the pronephros and mesonephros contain renin-expressing perivascular cells, which respond to RAS inhibition, making the zebrafish an excellent model for studying the RAS. This review summarizes the physiological and genetic tools currently available for studying the zebrafish kidney with regards to functionality of the RAS, using novel imaging techniques such as SPIM microscopy coupled with targeted single cell ablation and synthesis of vasoactive RAS peptides.
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