Focused chemical genomics using zebrafish xenotransplantation as a pre-clinical therapeutic platform for T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

PMID 25281505


Cancer therapeutics is evolving to precision medicine, with the goal of matching targeted compounds with molecular aberrations underlying a patient's cancer. While murine models offer a pre-clinical tool, associated costs and time are not compatible with actionable patient-directed interventions. Using the paradigm of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a high-risk disease with defined molecular underpinnings, we developed a zebrafish human cancer xenotransplantation model to inform therapeutic decisions. Using a focused chemical genomic approach, we demonstrate that xenografted cell lines harboring mutations in the NOTCH1 and PI3K/AKT pathways respond concordantly to their targeted therapies, patient-derived T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia can be successfully engrafted in zebrafish and specific drug responses can be quantitatively determined. Using this approach, we identified a mutation sensitive to γ-secretase inhibition in a xenograft from a child with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, confirmed by Sanger sequencing and validated as a gain-of-function NOTCH1 mutation. The zebrafish xenotransplantation platform provides a novel cost-effective means of tailoring leukemia therapy in real time.