Heterogeneous cell populations, from either healthy or malignant tissues, may contain a population of cells characterized by a differential ability to efflux the DNA-binding dye Hoechst 33342. This "side population" of cells can be identified using flow cytometric methods after the Hoechst 33342 dye is excited by an ultraviolet (UV) laser. The side population of many cell types contains stem- or progenitor-like cells. However, not all cell types have an identifiable side population. Danio rerio, zebrafish, have a robust in vivo model of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), but whether these zebrafish T-ALLs have a side population is unknown. The method described here outlines how to isolate the side population cells in zebrafish T-ALL. To begin, the T-ALL in zebrafish is generated via the microinjection of tol2 plasmids into one-cell stage embryos. Once the tumors have grown to a stage at which they expand into more than half of the animal's body, the T-ALL cells can be harvested. The cells are then stained with Hoechst 33342 and examined by flow cytometry for side population cells. This method has broad applications in zebrafish T-ALL research. While there are no known cell surface markers in zebrafish that confirm whether these side population cells are cancer stem cell-like, in vivo functional transplantation assays are possible. Furthermore, single-cell transcriptomics could be applied to identify the genetic features of these side population cells.
Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. 2017 May 04*** epublish ***
Margaret M Pruitt, Wilfredo Marin, Michael R Waarts, Jill L O de Jong