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Advances in Hematology
Volume 2012, Article ID 478164, 8 pages
Review Article

Through the Looking Glass: Visualizing Leukemia Growth, Migration, and Engraftment Using Fluorescent Transgenic Zebrafish

1Department of Pathology and Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Building 149, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA
2Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Holyoke Center, Suite 727W, 1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
3Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, NRB 0330, Boston, MA 02115, USA

Received 15 March 2012; Accepted 23 May 2012

Academic Editor: Elspeth Payne

Copyright © 2012 Finola E. Moore and David M. Langenau. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Zebrafish have emerged as a powerful model of development and cancer. Human, mouse, and zebrafish malignancies exhibit striking histopathologic and molecular similarities, underscoring the remarkable conservation of genetic pathways required to induce cancer. Zebrafish are uniquely suited for large-scale studies in which hundreds of animals can be used to investigate cancer processes. Moreover, zebrafish are small in size, optically clear during development, and amenable to genetic manipulation. Facile transgenic approaches and new technologies in gene inactivation have provided much needed genomic resources to interrogate the function of specific oncogenic and tumor suppressor pathways in cancer. This manuscript focuses on the unique attribute of labeling leukemia cells with fluorescent proteins and directly visualizing cancer processes in vivo including tumor growth, dissemination, and intravasation into the vasculature. We will also discuss the use of fluorescent transgenic approaches and cell transplantation to assess leukemia-propagating cell frequency and response to chemotherapy.