Allograft Cancer Cell Transplantation in Zebrafish

John C Moore, David M Langenau
Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 2016, 916: 265-87
Allogeneic cell transplantation is the transfer of cells from one individual into another of the same species and has become an indispensable technique for studying development, immunology, regeneration and cancer biology. In experimental settings, tumor cell engraftment into immunologically competent recipients has greatly increased our understanding of the mechanisms that drive self-renewal, progression and metastasis in vivo. Zebrafish have quickly emerged as a powerful genetic model of cancer that has benefited greatly from allogeneic transplantation. Efficient engraftment can be achieved by transplanting cells into either early larval stage zebrafish that have not yet developed a functional acquired immune system or adult zebrafish following radiation or chemical ablation of the immune system. Alternatively, transplantation can be completed in adult fish using either clonal syngeneic strains or newly-generated immune compromised zebrafish models that have mutations in genes required for proper immune cell function. Here, we discuss the current state of cell transplantation as it pertains to zebrafish cancer and the available models used for dissecting important processes underlying cancer. We will also use the zebrafish model to highlight the power of cell transplantation, including its capacity to dynamically assess functional heterogeneity within individual cancer cells, visualize cancer progression and evolution, assess tumor-propagating potential and self-renewal, image cancer cell invasion and dissemination and identify novel therapies for treating cancer.

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