Identifying Polymorphisms within AB, WIK, and SJD Zebrafish Strains
In 2012, the American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 76,250 new individuals diagnosed with Melanoma [I] This deadly form of a skin cancer is caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. The sun releases both UVA and UVB light that result in damage to skin cells, known as melanocytes. The UV light leads to gene mutations that could cause the melanocytes to proliferate uncontrollably leading to cancer. As indoor tanning beds become popular, the number of individuals being diagnosed has increased. Patients undergo a slew of treatments ranging from simple surgery to painful radiation therapy, paying out tremendous sums of money for their chance at survival. Melanocytes are black pigment cells found in human skin, hair, and eyes. When exposed to UV light the cells release pigments that protect the skin from UV-mutating DNA. This process is considered the tanning response. When the tanning response is unable to protect the DNA, random mutations occur that lead to melanoma. Zebrafish (Dania rerio) are used as a model organism to study melanoma because pigment cells called melanophores develop in a manner similar to human melanocytes. Understanding how melanophores develop in zebrafish may lead to new understanding and new drug treatments for melanoma.