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Annalisa Pession

Alma Mater Professor

Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna

Adjunct professor

Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology


Keywords: Cell competition Drosophila Carcinomas Lethal giant larvae

Cancer modeling in Drosophila.

Cancer modelling in Drosophila

Drosophila lethal giant larvae (lgl) is an evolutionarily conserved tumor suppressor gene whose loss of function leads to neoplastic growth of the ectodermal derivatives, which develop in 3D-growing masses killing the animal at the end of the larval life. When tumorous tissues from lgl mutant larvae are transplanted into wild-type recipients, they are able to grow and migrate to distant sites killing the host. Despite this intrinsically relevant neoplastic potential, clones of lgl cells in epithelial tissues are partially or completely removed during development due to cell competition. We thus built-up a series of genetic instruments that allow to alter either lgl cells or normal adjacent tissue and visualize the behavior of both populations in vivo. This way we can use lgl cells as reporters within the animal and follow their possible invasive and migratory movements, correlating such behaviors to the molecular alteration induced. Beside this, we analyze the expression profile of the neoplastic lesions at different stages in search of molecules involved in cancer progression; the high functional homology between Drosophila and humans in genes controlling proliferation and growth makes this model a powerful and reliable tool for the study of complex genetic mechanisms such as those underlying tumorigenesis.

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