Xenotransplantation is a widely used technique to test the tumorigenic potential of human cells in vivo using immunodeficient mice. Here we describe basic technologies and recent advances in xenotransplantation applied to study squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) of the skin. SCC cells isolated from tumors can either be cultured to generate a cell line or injected directly into mice. Several immunodeficient mouse models are available for selection based on the experimental design and the type of tumorigenicity assay. Subcutaneous injection is the most widely used technique for xenotransplantation because it involves a simple procedure allowing the use of a large number of cells, although it may not mimic the original tumor environment. SCC cell injections at the epidermal-to-dermal junction or grafting of organotypic cultures containing human stroma have also been used to more closely resemble the tumor environment. Mixing of SCC cells with cancer-associated fibroblasts can allow the study of their interaction and reciprocal influence, which can be followed in real time by intradermal ear injection using conventional fluorescent microscopy. In this article, we will review recent advances in xenotransplantation technologies applied to study behavior of SCC cells and their interaction with the tumor environment in vivo.
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