Genetically engineered mouse models (GEMM) of cancer are of increasing value to preclinical therapeutics. Optical imaging is a cost-effective method of assessing deep-seated tumor growth in GEMMs whose tumors can be encoded to express luminescent or fluorescent reporters, although reporter signal attenuation would be improved if animals were fur-free. In this study, we sought to determine whether hereditable furlessness resulting from a hypomorphic mutation in the Hairless gene would or would not also affect immune competence. By assessing humoral and cellular immunity of the SKH1 mouse line bearing the hypomorphic Hairless mutation, we determined that blood counts, immunoglobulin levels, and CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were comparable between SKH1 and the C57Bl/6 strain. On examination of T-cell subsets, statistically significant differences in naïve T cells (1.7 versus 3.4 × 10 5 cells/spleen in SKH1 versus C57Bl/6, P = 0.008) and memory T cells (1.4 versus 0.13 × 10 6 cells/spleen in SKH1 versus C57Bl/6, P = 0.008) were detected. However, the numerical differences did not result in altered T-cell functional response to antigen rechallenge (keyhole limpet hemocyanin) in a lymph node cell in vitro proliferative assay. Furthermore, interbreeding the SKH1 mouse line to a rhabdomyosarcoma GEMM showed preserved antitumor responses of CD56+ natural killer cells and CD163+ macrophages, without any differences in tumor pathology. The fur-free GEMM was also especially amenable to multiplex optical imaging. Thus, SKH1 represents an immune competent, fur-free mouse strain that may be of use for interbreeding to other genetically engineered mouse models of cancer for improved preclinical studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research