Fly Cells On The Move May Reveal Clues To Cancer Metastases
Using neat genetic tricks with fruit flies, scientists from Johns
Hopkins School of Medicine have found the key signal that allows
a group of normally stationary cells in the ovary to travel,
they report in the current issue of Cell.
Because fruit fly genetics are similar to but vastly simpler than
human genetics, understanding the signals that mobilize the ovary
cells may help clarify how human cancer cells invade distant
tissues, says Denise Montell, Ph.D., associate professor of biological
chemistry in the school's Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences.
"Cells usually hold on to their neighbors, so a lot of things
have to change for a cell to become migratory," says Montell,
who has been studying this process in flies for 12 years. "We've
now found the first signal that seems to be sufficient to get
With funding from the American Cancer Society and the National
Institutes of Health, graduate student Debra Silver examined
thousands of mutant fruit flies and identified a protein called
"Unpaired" that activates stationary cells.
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