Zebrafish provide a model for cancerous melanoma in humans

May 26, 2009

In a new study published in Disease Models & Mechanisms, scientists use the zebrafish to gain insight into the influence of known cancer genes on the development and progression of melanoma, an aggressive form of human skin cancer with limited treatment options.

Inside the cell, signals are delivered that direct the cell on whether to divide, migrate or even die. often results when the molecules that relay these signals become mutated so that they do not function normally. In cancer, cells divide, grow and migrate when they should not, therefore resulting in an aggressive disease that can spread throughout the body. A key molecule in this signaling pathway is RAS, and mutations in it are known to lead to cancer. In some cases, the type of RAS mutation is a predictor of a patient's response to treatment and their overall prognosis.

Therefore, scientists at the University of Manchester in England and the University Hospital Zürich in Switzerland generated several zebrafish with changes in RAS or other RAS-regulated proteins to create a useful model that can be used to study and understand human melanoma. Zebrafish are a useful tool to understand human disease because they are small, transparent, and easy to propagate and maintain. Tumors created from the pigmented cells of zebrafish, known as melanocytes, are easy to see against their thin, light colored bodies.

The research team notes that these fish may be a useful experimental tool for human disease. Many of the changes they made caused melanoma in the zebrafish, indicating that zebrafish respond similarly to changes in these signals as do humans. Zebrafish that were born from the original mutant fish displayed abnormal growth of their melanocytes, reminiscent of familial atypical mole and melanoma syndrome (FAMM) seen in humans. By producing other signaling molecules in the mutant fish, the researchers were able to identify a pathway that reduced the effects of RAS mutations on melanoma progression in zebrafish.

More information: The report titled "Dissecting the roles of Raf- and PI3K-signalling pathways in formation and progression in a zebrafish model" was written by Christina Michailidou, Mary Jones, Paul Walker, Amanda Kelly, and Adam Hurlstone at the University of Manchester and Jivko Kamarashev at University Hospital Zürich. The study is published in the July/August issue of the new research journal, Disease Models & Mechanisms (DMM), published by The Company of Biologists.

Source: The Company of Biologists (news : web)

Explore further: Scientists find key to te first cell differentiation in mammals

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Reversing cancer cells to normal cells

Apr 29, 2007

A Northwestern University scientist describes new research that used an innovative experimental approach to provide unique insights into how scientists can change human metastatic melanoma cells back to normal-like skin cells ...

Zebrafish mutation studied

Nov 14, 2005

Harvard Medical School scientists say they've found a small molecule that suppresses the phenotype of a zebrafish mutation.

Transparent fish to make human biology clearer

Feb 06, 2008

Zebrafish are genetically similar to humans and are good models for human biology and disease. Now, researchers at Children's Hospital Boston have created a zebrafish that is transparent throughout its life. ...

Recommended for you

Research helps identify memory molecules

13 hours ago

A newly discovered method of identifying the creation of proteins in the body could lead to new insights into how learning and memories are impaired in Alzheimer's disease.

Computer simulations visualize ion flux

14 hours ago

Ion channels are involved in many physiological and pathophysiological processes throughout the human body. A young team of researchers led by pharmacologist Anna Stary-Weinzinger from the Department of Pharmacology ...

Neutron diffraction sheds light on photosynthesis

14 hours ago

Scientists from ILL and CEA-Grenoble have improved our understanding of the way plants evolved to take advantage of sunlight. Using cold neutron diffraction, they analysed the structure of thylakoid lipids found in plant ...

DNA may have had humble beginnings as nutrient carrier

Sep 01, 2014

New research intriguingly suggests that DNA, the genetic information carrier for humans and other complex life, might have had a rather humbler origin. In some microbes, a study shows, DNA pulls double duty ...

Central biobank for drug research

Sep 01, 2014

For the development of new drugs it is crucial to work with stem cells, as these allow scientists to study the effects of new active pharmaceutical ingredients. But it has always been difficult to derive ...

User comments : 0