Zebrafish models of acute leukemias: Current models and future directions

Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol. 2021 Nov;10(6):e400. doi: 10.1002/wdev.400. Epub 2020 Dec 19.


Acute myeloid leukemias (AML) and acute lymphoid leukemias (ALL) are heterogenous diseases encompassing a wide array of genetic mutations with both loss and gain of function phenotypes. Ultimately, these both result in the clonal overgrowth of blast cells in the bone marrow, peripheral blood, and other tissues. As a consequence of this, normal hematopoietic stem cell function is severely hampered. Technologies allowing for the early detection of genetic alterations and understanding of these varied molecular pathologies have helped to advance our treatment regimens toward personalized targeted therapies. In spite of this, both AML and ALL continue to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, in part because molecular therapies for the plethora of genetic abnormalities have not been developed. This underscores the current need for better model systems for therapy development. This article reviews the current zebrafish models of AML and ALL and discusses how novel gene editing tools can be implemented to generate better models of acute leukemias. This article is categorized under: Adult Stem Cells, Tissue Renewal, and Regeneration > Stem Cells and Disease Technologies > Perturbing Genes and Generating Modified Animals.

Keywords: ALL; AML; hematopoietic stem cells; leukemia; zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute* / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Zebrafish* / genetics