Overview | Group Members | Collaborations | Selected Publications


As the incidence of cancer continues to increase steadily among the world population, the available tools for understanding and treating cancer fail to meet our demand for cure. Powerful animal models emerge as a valid alternative; here cancer cell biology, cancer evolution and treatment can be studied in an integrated way, leading to better understanding and precision therapies. The zebrafish offers a number of advantages for experimental cancer biology, such as its rapid development, tractable genetics, suitability for in vivo imaging and for high throughput chemical screening. Cancer occurs naturally in zebrafish and can be induced with a variety of toxicological, environmental and genetic methods, making this small vertebrate an extraordinary tool in cancer research. Indeed, no other models offer the molecular toolbox, the superior imaging capabilities and the discovery power of genetic screens in just one tiny organism.

Our lab uses the zebrafish as a model for cancer biology. We have developed several zebrafish models of cancer that we use as a source of information on the biology of different cancer types in their endogenous environment. We can follow cancer predisposition, initiation, progression, response to therapy and relapse in the same model, a powerful platform that is well suited for preclinical studies. We work in collaboration with basic/translational and clinical researchers to provide knowledge on the biology of different cancers that can be translated in therapeutic approaches for the immediate benefit of the patients.

The projects we carry out in the lab are based on our models of cutaneous melanoma, ocular melanoma, (http://www.eueye.org/um-cure-2020) glioblastoma and myeloid leukemia. We have a strong connection with the European Zebrafish Resource and Screening Center at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (http://www.ezrc.kit.edu/), where we have generated and studied some of the models.

We have positions available for talented post-docs and PhD students, and exciting projects for master and bachelor students.

Group Members

Marina Mione, PI
Aurora Idilli, Post-doc
Viviana Anelli, Post-doc
Francesca Precazzini, PhD Student
Manuel Bernabé Garcia, Visiting PhD Student (from University of Murcia)
Valeria Savoca, Master Student
Andrea Tavosanis, Master Student


  • Maria L. Cayuela, Hospital UniversitarioV. De La Arrixaca-IMIB-FFIS, Murcia, Spain
  • Martin Distel, Children’s Cancer Research Institute, Wien, Austria
  • Claudia Legerke, DBM, Universitätsspital Basel, Switzerland
  • Burkhard Luy, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany
  • Victor Mulero, University of Murcia, Spain
  • Sergio Roman Roman (Institut Curie, Paris) and the UM Cure Consortium
  • Alex Rosch, Universitätsklinikum Essen, Germany
  • Dirk Sieger, Centre for Neuroregeneration, The University of Edinburgh, U.K.
  • Uwe Strahle, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

Selected Publications

Mayrhofer M, Gourain V, Reischl M, Affaticati P, Jenett A,  Joly J.S,  Benelli M, Demichelis M,  Poliani P.L,  Sieger D,  Mione M*. A novel brain tumour model in zebrafish reveals the role of YAP activation in MAPK/PI3K induced malignant growth, Disease Models & Mechanisms 2016 : doi: 10.1242/dmm.026500 

Anelli V, Mione M*. Melanoma niche formation: it is all about melanosomes making CAFs. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2016 Oct 23. doi: 10.1111/pcmr.12545. [Epub ahead of print]

Schutera M, Dickmeis T, Mione M*, Peravali R, Marcato D, Reischl M, Mikut R, Pylatiuk C. Automated phenotype pattern recognition of zebrafish for high-throughput screening. Bioengineered. 2016 Jul 3;7(4):261-5. doi: 10.1080/21655979.2016.1197710. 


Mayrhofer M, Mione M*. The toolbox for conditional zebrafish cancer models. In: Cancer and Zebrafish: Mechanisms, Techniques and Models. Ed. Langenau, Springer, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;916:21-59. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-30654-4_2 


Arbizzani F, Mayrhofer M, Mione M*. Novel transgenic lines to fluorescently label clathrin and caveolin endosomes in live zebrafish. Zebrafish. 2015 Apr;12(2):202-3 


Mione M*, Bosserhoff A. MicroRNAs in melanocyte and melanoma biology. Pigment Cells & Melanoma Research 2015 May;28(3):340-54 


Alghisi E, Distel M, Malagola M, Anelli V, Santoriello C, Herwig L, Krudewig A, Henkel C, Russo D, Mione MC* Targeting oncogene expression to endothelial cells induces proliferation of the myeloerythroid lineage by repressing the notch pathway. Leukemia, 2013, 27(11):2229-41 


Mione M*, Zon LI: Cancer and inflammation: an aspirin a day keeps the cancer at bay. Curr Biol. 2012 Jul 10;22(13):R522-5. 


Feng Y, Santoriello C, Mione M*, Hurlstone A*, Martin P.* Live imaging of innate immune cell sensing of transformed cells in zebrafish larvae: parallels between tumor initiation and wound inflammation. PLoS Biol. 2010 Dec 14;8(12):e1000562. 


Santoriello C, Gennaro E, Anelli V, Distel M, Kelly A, Köster RW, Hurlstone A, Mione M.* Kita driven expression of oncogenic HRAS leads to early onset and highly penetrant melanoma in zebrafish. PLoS One. 2010 Dec 10;5(12):e1517 


Mione MC*, Trede NS. The zebrafish as a model for cancer. Dis Model Mech. 2010 Sep-Oct;3(9-10):517-23.​ 


Anelli V, Santoriello C, Distel M, Köster RW, Ciccarelli FD, Mione M.* Global repression of cancer gene expression in a zebrafish model of melanoma is linked to epigenetic regulation. Zebrafish. 2009 Dec;6(4):417-24.