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Researchers identify genes in fruitflies that may shed light on human cancer spread

but have been more difficult to study

because their functions are shared by other genes; and some that are well understood for their roles in other cellular functions but without this study would not have been obvious candidate genes in cell migration. The results help these researchers as well as others in the field by pointing out genes to study further.

"This really was a hypothesis-generating experiment," says Montell. "The results of this study tell us where to focus future efforts."

Understanding the genetic mechanisms underlying cell migration is critical for understanding normal development, and inflammation, as well as metastasis. Classical genetic approaches for identifying key genes ?mutational analysis, for example ?have been successful but generally yield information about genes with unique functions only, and only one gene at a time. Whole genome studies, like the microarray analysis used in this study, allow researchers to identify genes that share similar functions in a way that mutational analysis cannot. And, whole genome approaches can look at most of the genes in the genome at one time.

As part of their previous work, Montell's group had generated mutant flies that show defects in border cell migration. This study identified five of the genes mutated in those flies and gives the researchers a starting point for more detailed analysis of how those genes are involved in cell migration. Wang has begun to study some of these genes to further dissect their function. The researchers also hope to perform more whole genome analyses to identify genes that interact with those already known to play a role in cell migration and metastasis.


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Source:Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions


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