Casey, M.J., Modzelewska, K., Anderson, D., Goodman, J., Boer, E.F., Jimenez, L., Grossman, D., Stewart, R.A. (2017) Transplantation of Zebrafish Pediatric Brain Tumors into Immune-competent Hosts for Long-term Study of Tumor Cell Behavior and Drug Response. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. (123).
Tumor cell transplantation is an important technique to define the mechanisms controlling cancer cell growth, migration, and host response, as well as to assess potential patient response to therapy. Current methods largely depend on using syngeneic or immune-compromised animals to avoid rejection of the tumor graft. Such methods require the use of specific genetic strains that often prevent the analysis of immune-tumor cell interactions and/or are limited to specific genetic backgrounds. An alternative method in zebrafish takes advantage of an incompletely developed immune system in the embryonic brain before 3 days, where tumor cells are transplanted for use in short-term assays (i.e., 3 to 10 days). However, these methods cause host lethality, which prevents the long-term study of tumor cell behavior and drug response. This protocol describes a simple and efficient method for the long-term orthotopic transplantation of zebrafish brain tumor tissue into the fourth ventricle of a 2-day-old immune-competent zebrafish. This method allows: 1) long-term study of tumor cell behaviors, such as invasion and dissemination; 2) durable tumor response to drugs; and 3) re-transplantation of tumors for the study of tumor evolution and/or the impact of different host genetic backgrounds. In summary, this technique allows cancer researchers to assess engraftment, invasion, and growth at distant sites, as well as to perform chemical screens and cell competition assays over many months. This protocol can be extended to studies of other tumor types and can be used to elucidate mechanisms of chemoresistance and metastasis.