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Drosophila models of metastasis

School of BioSciences, Faculty of Science, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Melbourne, Australia

Special Issues: Drosophila models of tumourigenesis

An important goal in the fight against cancer is to understand how tumors become invasive and metastatic. A crucial early step in metastasis is thought to be the epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT), the process in which epithelial cells transition into a more migratory and invasive, mesenchymal state. Since the genetic regulatory networks driving EMT in tumors derive from those used in development, analysis of EMTs in genetic model organisms such as the vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster, can provide great insight into cancer. In this review I highlight the many ways in which studies in the fly are shedding light on cancer metastasis. The review covers both normal developmental events in which epithelial cells become migratory, as well as induced events, whereby normal epithelial cells become metastatic due to genetic manipulations. The ability to make such precise genetic perturbations in the context of a normal, in vivo environment, complete with a working innate immune system, is making the fly increasingly important in understanding metastasis.
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