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Vet Pathol. 2011 Mar;48(2):475-81. doi: 10.1177/0300985810380398. Epub 2010 Sep 22.

A murine xenograft model for a transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils.

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  • 1Dr Menzies Research Institute, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania 7000, Australia. akreiss@utas.edu.au


The number of Tasmanian devils in the wild is rapidly declining owing to a transmissible cancer, devil facial tumor disease (DFTD). Although progress has been made to understand the spread of this disease, crucial research on the pathogenesis of DFTD has been limited because of the threatened status of the host species. Here, the authors describe the development of a NOD/SCID (nonobese diabetic / severe combined immunodeficiency) mouse model that reproduces DFTD and provides a much-needed model to undertake studies into this intriguing transmissible cancer. Histologically, the DFTD produced in NOD/SCID mice (xenografted DFTD) was indistinguishable from the DFTD identified in Tasmanian devils. At the protein level, all xenografted DFTD tumors expressed periaxin, a marker that confirmed the diagnosis of DFTD. The karyotype of DFTD in NOD/SCID mice reproduced similar chromosomal alterations as seen in diseased devils. Furthermore, each NOD/SCID mouse inoculated with cultured DFTD tumor cells developed tumors, whereas DFTD did not develop in any of the inoculated immune-competent BALB/c mice.

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