Cre/lox-regulated transgenic zebrafish model with conditional myc-induced T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

PubMedID: 15827121

Langenau DM, Feng H, Berghmans S, Kanki JP, Kutok JL, Look AT. Cre/lox-regulated transgenic zebrafish model with conditional myc-induced T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2005;102(17):6068-73.
We have created a stable transgenic rag2-EGFP-mMyc zebrafish line that develops GFP-labeled T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), allowing visualization of the onset and spread of this disease. Here, we show that leukemias from this transgenic line are highly penetrant and render animals moribund by 80.7 +/- 17.6 days of life (+/-1 SD, range = 50-158 days). These T cell leukemias are clonally aneuploid, can be transplanted into irradiated recipient fish, and express the zebrafish orthologues of the human T-ALL oncogenes tal1/scl and lmo2, thus providing an animal model for the most prevalent molecular subgroup of human T-ALL. Because T-ALL develops very rapidly in rag2-EGFP-mMyc transgenic fish (in which "mMyc" represents mouse c-Myc), this line can only be maintained by in vitro fertilization. Thus, we have created a conditional transgene in which the EGFP-mMyc oncogene is preceded by a loxed dsRED2 gene and have generated stable rag2-loxP-dsRED2-loxP-EGFP-mMyc transgenic zebrafish lines, which have red fluorescent thymocytes and do not develop leukemia. Transgenic progeny from one of these lines can be induced to develop T-ALL by injecting Cre RNA into one-cell-stage embryos, demonstrating the utility of the Cre/lox system in the zebrafish and providing an essential step in preparing this model for chemical and genetic screens designed to identify modifiers of Myc-induced T-ALL.