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Zebrafish xenografts as a tool for in vivo studies on human cancer

Authors

  • Martina Konantz,

    1. Department of Hematology and Oncology, University of Tübingen Medical Center II, Tübingen, Germany.
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  • Tugce B. Balci,

    1. IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
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  • Udo F. Hartwig,

    1. 3rd Department of Medicine—Hematology, Oncology and Pneumology, University Medical Center, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany.
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  • Graham Dellaire,

    1. Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
    2. Department of Pathology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
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  • Maya C. André,

    1. Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, University Children's Hospital, Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany.
    2. Department of Pediatric Intensive Care Medicine, University Children's Hospital (UKBB), Basel, Switzerland.
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  • Jason N. Berman,

    1. IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
    2. Department of Pathology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
    3. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
    4. Department of Pediatrics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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  • Claudia Lengerke

    1. Department of Hematology and Oncology, University of Tübingen Medical Center II, Tübingen, Germany.
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Claudia Lengerke, M.D., University of Tübingen Medical Center II, Otfried-Mueller-Strasse 10, 72076 Tübingen, Germany. claudia.lengerke@med.uni-tuebingen.de

Abstract

The zebrafish has become a powerful vertebrate model for genetic studies of embryonic development and organogenesis and increasingly for studies in cancer biology. Zebrafish facilitate the performance of reverse and forward genetic approaches, including mutagenesis and small molecule screens. Moreover, several studies report the feasibility of xenotransplanting human cells into zebrafish embryos and adult fish. This model provides a unique opportunity to monitor tumor-induced angiogenesis, invasiveness, and response to a range of treatments in vivo and in real time. Despite the high conservation of gene function between fish and humans, concern remains that potential differences in zebrafish tissue niches and/or missing microenvironmental cues could limit the relevance and translational utility of data obtained from zebrafish human cancer cell xenograft models. Here, we summarize current data on xenotransplantation of human cells into zebrafish, highlighting the advantages and limitations of this model in comparison to classical murine models of xenotransplantation.

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