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Annu Rev Genet. 2013;47:51-74. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genet-110711-155414.

Dissecting social cell biology and tumors using Drosophila genetics.

Author information

1
School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China; email: jose.pastor@biomed.tsinghua.edu.cn.

Abstract

Cancer was seen for a long time as a strictly cell-autonomous process in which oncogenes and tumor-suppressor mutations drive clonal cell expansions. Research in the past decade, however, paints a more integrative picture of communication and interplay between neighboring cells in tissues. It is increasingly clear as well that tumors, far from being homogenous lumps of cells, consist of different cell types that function together as complex tissue-level communities. The repertoire of interactive cell behaviors and the quantity of cellular players involved call for a social cell biology that investigates these interactions. Research into this social cell biology is critical for understanding development of normal and tumoral tissues. Such complex social cell biology interactions can be parsed in Drosophila. Techniques in Drosophila for analysis of gene function and clonal behavior allow us to generate tumors and dissect their complex interactive biology with cellular resolution. Here, we review recent Drosophila research aimed at understanding tissue-level biology and social cell interactions in tumors, highlighting the principles these studies reveal.

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