The Lieschke group studies the haemopoietic system and leukocytes. The haemopoietic system is a collection of organs and tissues (bone marrow, spleen, lymph nodes etc.) responsible for the production of blood cells. Leukocytes (white blood cells) are the keys cells that defend the body against foreign substances. They also play a major role in determining whether tissue repairs and regenerates rather than scars after injury.


Using the zebrafish as a model organism, the Lieschke group study blood cell development and function. They look at mutant zebrafish with faulty blood cell development to find insights into the genes that regulate the haemopoietic system. Mutant zebrafish also assist with understanding the role of leukocytes in inflammation and healing. Infection models that stimulate leukocytes in action are used to investigate the host-pathogen response.

The Lieschke group in 2017


  • Discovery of genes critical for white blood cell development 
  • How the inflammatory response is regulated
  • How modulating the inflammatory white blood cells might tip the outcome to favour regeneration rather than scarring
  • Investigating how white blood cells keep out and contain micro-organisms. 

Featured Publications

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Schmitz U, Pinello N, Jia F, Alasmari S, Ritchie W, Keightley MC, Shini S, Lieschke GJ, Wong JJ, Rasko JEJ.

Intron retention enhances gene regulatory complexity in vertebrates.

Genome Biol. 2017 Nov 16;18(1):216. doi: 10.1186/s13059-017-1339-3.

Witzel M, Petersheim D, Fan Y, Bahrami E, Racek T, Rohlfs M, Puchalka J, Mertes C, Gagneur J, Ziegenheim C, Enard W, Stray-Pederson A, Arkwright P, Abboud M, Pazhakh V, Lieschke GJ, Mundlos S, Krawitz, Dahlhoff M, Schneider M, Wolf E, Horny H-P, Schmidt H, Schaffer A, Klein C.

Chromatin remodeling factor SMARCD2 regulates transcriptional networks controlling differentiation of neutrophil granulocytes.

Nat Genet. 2017 May;49(5):742-752. doi: 10.1038/ng.3833. Epub 2017 Apr 3.

Pazhakh V, Clark S, Keightley MC, Lieschke GJ.

A GCSFR/CSF3R zebrafish mutant models the persistent basal neutrophil deficiency of severe congenital neutropenia.

Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 10;7:44455. doi: 10.1038/srep44455.

Keightley M-C, Carradice DP, Layton JE, Pase L, Bertrand JY, Wittig JG, Dakic A, Badrock AP, Cole NJ, Traver D, Nutt SL, McCoey J, Buckle AM, Heath JK, Lieschke GJ.

The Pu.1 target gene Zbtb11 regulates neutrophil development through its integrase-like HHCC zinc finger.

Nature Communications 2017;8:14911. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14911.

Keightley M-C, Nilsson SK, Lieschke GJ.

MED12 in hematopoietic stem cells – cell specific function despite ubiquitous expression.

Stem Cell Investigation 2017;4:3. DOI: 10.21037/sci.2016.12.04.

Alifui-Segbaya F, Varma S, Lieschke GJ, George R.

Biocompatibility of photopolymers in 3D printing.

3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing 2017;4(3):185–191. doi:

Bhuiyan MS, Ellett F, Murray GL, Kostoulias X, Cerqueira GM, Schulze KE, Mahamad Maifiah MH, Li J, Creek DJ, Lieschke GJ, Peleg AY.

Acinetobacter baumannii phenylacetic acid metabolism influences infection outcome through a direct effect on neutrophil chemotaxis.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Aug 23;113(34):9599-604. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1523116113. Epub 2016 Aug 9.

Keightley MC, Markmiller S, Love CG, Rasko JE, Lieschke GJ, Heath JK.

Experimental approaches to studying the nature and impact of splicing variation in zebrafish.

Methods Cell Biol. 2016;135:259-88. doi: 10.1016/bs.mcb.2016.02.006. Epub 2016 Mar 9.

Nguyen PD, Hollway GE, Sonntag C, Miles LB, Hall TE, Berger S, Fernandez KJ, Gurevich DB, Cole NJ, Alaei S, Ramialison M, Sutherland RL, Polo JM, Lieschke GJ, Currie PD.

Haematopoietic stem cell induction by somite-derived endothelial cells controlled by meox1.

Nature. 2014 Aug 21;512(7514):314-8. doi: 10.1038/nature13678. Epub 2014 Aug 13.

Markmiller S, Cloonan N, Lardelli RM, Doggett K, Keightley MC, Boglev Y, Trotter AJ, Ng AY, Wilkins SJ, Verkade H, Ober EA, Field HA, Grimmond SA, Lieschke GJ, Stainier DYR, Heath JK.

Minor class splicing shapes the zebrafish transcriptome during development.

PNAS February 25, 2014 111 (8) 3062-3067. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1305536111. Epub 2014 Feb 10, 2014.

Palha N, Guivel-Benhassine F, Briolat V, Lutfalla G, Sourisseau M, Ellett F, Wang C.-H, Lieschke GJ, Herbomel P, Schwartz O, Levraud J-P.

Real-time visualization of Chikungunya virus infection and host interferon response in zebrafish.

PLoS Pathog. 2013;9(9):e1003619. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003619. Epub 2013 Sep 5.

Hall CJ, Boyle RH, Astin JW, Flores MV, Oehlers SH, Sanderson LE, Ellett F, Lieschke GJ, Crosier KE, Crosier PS.

Immunoresponsive gene 1 augments bactericidal activity of macrophage-lineage cells by regulating -oxidation-dependent mitochondrial ROS production.

Cell Metab. 2013 Aug 6;18(2):265-78. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2013.06.018.

Keightley MC, Crowhurst MO, Layton JE, Beilharz T, Markmiller S, Varma S, Hogan BM, de Jong-Curtain TA, Heath JK, Lieschke GJ.

In vivo mutation of pre-mRNA processing factor 8 (Prpf8) affects transcript splicing, cell survival and myeloid differentiation.

FEBS Lett. 2013 Jul 11;587(14):2150-7. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2013.05.030. Epub 2013 May 25.

Lieschke GJ, Oates AC, Kawakami K (eds).

Zebrafish: Methods and Protocols.

Humana Press, Totowa NJ USA, 2009.

Lieschke GJ, Trede NS.

Fish immunology.

Curr Biol. 2009 Aug 25;19(16):R678-82. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.06.068.

Pase L, Layton JE, Kloosterman WP, Carradice D, Waterhouse PM, Lieschke GJ.

miR-451 regulates zebrafish erythroid maturation in vivo via its target gata2.

Blood. 2009 Feb 19;113(8):1794-804. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-05-155812. Epub 2008 Oct 10.

Lieschke GJ, Currie PD.

Animal models of human disease – zebrafish swim into view.

Nat Rev Genet. 2007 May;8(5):353-67. doi: 10.1038/nrg2091.

Keightley MC, Wang C-H, Pazhakh V, Lieschke GJ.

Delineating the roles of neutrophils and macrophages in zebrafish regeneration models.

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2014 Nov;56:92-106. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2014.07.010. Epub 2014 Jul 21.