Somatic mutagenesis with a Sleeping Beauty transposon system leads to solid tumor formation in zebrafish

Maura McGrail, Julia M. Hatler, Xianyan Kuang, Hsin Kai Liao, Kishore Nannapaneni, Kristin E.Noack Watt, Juli D. Uhl, David A. Largaespada, Erik Vollbrecht, Todd E. Scheetz, Adam J. Dupuy, Jesse M. Hostetter, Jeffrey J. Essner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Large-scale sequencing of human cancer genomes and mouse transposon-induced tumors has identified a vast number of genes mutated in different cancers. One of the outstanding challenges in this field is to determine which genes, when mutated, contribute to cellular transformation and tumor progression. To identify new and conserved genes that drive tumorigenesis we have developed a novel cancer model in a distantly related vertebrate species, the zebrafish, Danio rerio. The Sleeping Beauty (SB) T2/Onc transposon system was adapted for somatic mutagenesis in zebrafish. The carp ß-actin promoter was cloned into T2/Onc to create T2/OncZ. Two transgenic zebrafish lines that contain large concatemers of T2/OncZ were isolated by injection of linear DNA into the zebrafish embryo. The T2/OncZ transposons were mobilized throughout the zebrafish genome from the transgene array by injecting SB11 transposase RNA at the 1-cell stage. Alternatively, the T2/OncZ zebrafish were crossed to a transgenic line that constitutively expresses SB11 transposase. T2/OncZ transposon integration sites were cloned by ligation-mediated PCR and sequenced on a Genome Analyzer II. Between 700-6800 unique integration events in individual fish were mapped to the zebrafish genome. The data show that introduction of transposase by transgene expression or RNA injection results in an even distribution of transposon re-integration events across the zebrafish genome. SB11 mRNA injection resulted in neoplasms in 10% of adult fish at ~10 months of age. T2/OncZ-induced zebrafish tumors contain many mutated genes in common with human and mouse cancer genes. These analyses validate our mutagenesis approach and provide additional support for the involvement of these genes in human cancers. The zebrafish T2/OncZ cancer model will be useful for identifying novel and conserved genetic drivers of human cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere18826
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Jenny Groeltz of the Histopathology Laboratory (College of Veterinary Medicine, ISU) for histopathology slide preparations, and Ting Li and Justin Breitbach for technical assistance. Dr. Steve Ekker, Dr. Darius Balciunas and Dr. Chi-Bin Chien kindly provided constructs. Some strains of zebrafish used in this study were obtained from the Zebrafish International Resource Center, which is supported by grant P40 RR012546 from the NIH-NCRR.


Dive into the research topics of 'Somatic mutagenesis with a Sleeping Beauty transposon system leads to solid tumor formation in zebrafish'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this