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J Cell Sci. 2012 Jan 1;125(Pt 1):59-66. doi: 10.1242/jcs.085803. Epub 2012 Jan 16.

Loss of Scribble causes cell competition in mammalian cells.

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MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology and Cell Biology Unit, University College London, London, UK.


In Drosophila, normal and transformed cells compete with each other for survival in a process called cell competition. However, it is not known whether comparable phenomena also occur in mammals. Scribble is a tumor suppressor protein in Drosophila and mammals. In this study we examine the interface between normal and Scribble-knockdown epithelial cells using Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cells expressing Scribble short hairpin RNA (shRNA) in a tetracycline-inducible manner. We observe that Scribble-knockdown cells undergo apoptosis and are apically extruded from the epithelium when surrounded by normal cells. Apoptosis does not occur when Scribble-knockdown cells are cultured alone, suggesting that the presence of surrounding normal cells induces the cell death. We also show that death of Scribble-knockdown cells occurs independently of apical extrusion. Finally, we demonstrate that apoptosis of Scribble-knockdown cells depends on activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). This is the first demonstration that an oncogenic transformation within an epithelium induces cell competition in a mammalian cell culture system.

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