Zebrafish as a model for the study of human cancer

Julia Etchin, John P Kanki, A Thomas Look
Methods in Cell Biology 2011, 105: 309-37
Zebrafish provide an exciting animal model system for the study of human cancers. During the last few years many zebrafish models of cancer have been generated that recapitulate human hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. Concurrent technological advances have significantly improved the genetic tractability and unique advantage of in vivo imaging in zebrafish, providing a means to dissect the molecular pathways underlying tumor initiation, progression and metastasis. Comparisons of cancer-associated gene expression profiles have demonstrated a high degree of similarity in the gene signatures of specific types of tumor cells in fish and humans, indicating that the contributing genetic pathways leading to cancer are evolutionarily conserved. Furthermore, the high fecundity, optical clarity and small embryo size of zebrafish continue to make it particularly amenable to performing whole-organism small molecule screens to identify targets for therapeutic development. This chapter reviews a wide array of these zebrafish cancer models and illustrates the advantages of the zebrafish system for exploring the molecular mechanisms governing cancer-related cellular processes.

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