Genetic Basis of Metastatic Behavior
Tumor progression and metastasis is the major cause of mortality for cancer patients. Because multiple genetic alterations contribute to tumor progression and metastasis involves multiple tissues, it has been difficult to decipher mechanisms underlying the growth and spread of tumor cells. We have designed and performed genetic screens in Drosophila to interrogate its genome in somatic cells for mutations that can promote tumor growth and/or cause metastatic behavior. The cellular composition of these flies resembles that of cancer patients who are chimeric individuals carrying a small number of mutated somatic cells.
Furthermore, this approach allows us to identify and examine the effects of mutations, which will otherwise cause lethality. The Drosophila model also offers unique opportunity to uncover developmental mechanisms, which contribute to tumor growth and metastasis.