A study performed by researchers at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) on the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, unveils how distinct signaling pathways operate between neighboring cells in order to activate the cell proliferation machinery that results in the organized growth of the fly wing. The signaling pathways involved in this process are also conserved in humans, and when altered in diverse tissues give rise to the appearance of different types of cancer, including cancer of the colon and skin, and leukemia. The study has been undertaken in the Cell and Development Biology Laboratory headed by ICREA Research Professor, Marco Miln, at IRB Barcelona, and has been released in and advanced online format by the EMBO Journal.
The researchers have shown that the Notch and Wnt/Wingless signaling pathways exert control over the cell division machinery through two gene effectors, the proto-oncogen dMyc and the micro-RNA bantam. Regulated by Notch and Wnt/Wingless, these two genes instruct another gene, E2F, to activate the cell division machinery. All the components were already known but we have clarified the order in the signaling cascade and the interaction between the molecular elements that regulate proliferation for the correct development of the wing, explains Hctor Herranz, first author of the article.
Marco Miln: Diseases like cancer cannot be understood without taking into account how the distinct molecular elements are integrated.
Notch and Wnt/Wingless play a key role in embryo development, cell growth (proliferation) and the transformation of cells into specialized types (differentiation). The interesting feature is that these two pathways are highly conserved in humans and when mutations arise tumors appear. The fruit fly wing is a vital experimental model to find f
|Contact: Sonia Armengou|
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)