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Notch Mediates Inter-tissue Communication to Promote Tumorigenesis.

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Boukhatmi, Hadi 
Martins, Torcato 
Pillidge, Zoe 
Kamenova, Tsveta 


Disease progression in many tumor types involves the interaction of genetically abnormal cancer cells with normal stromal cells. Neoplastic transformation in a Drosophila genetic model of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-driven tumorigenesis similarly relies on the interaction between epithelial and mesenchymal cells, providing a simple system to investigate mechanisms used for the cross-talk. Using the Drosophila model, we show that the transformed epithelium hijacks the mesenchymal cells through Notch signaling, which prevents their differentiation and promotes proliferation. A key downstream target in the mesenchyme is Zfh1/ZEB. When Notch or zfh1 are depleted in the mesenchymal cells, tumor growth is compromised. The ligand Delta is highly upregulated in the epithelial cells where it is found on long cellular processes. By using a live transcription assay in cultured cells and by depleting actin-rich processes in the tumor epithelium, we provide evidence that signaling can be mediated by cytonemes from Delta-expressing cells. We, thus, propose that high Notch activity in the unmodified mesenchymal cells is driven by ligands produced by the cancerous epithelial. This long-range Notch signaling integrates the two tissues to promote tumorigenesis, by co-opting a normal regulatory mechanism that prevents the mesenchymal cells from differentiating.



Delta, Drosophila, Notch, Zfh1/ZEB, cell-cell signaling, cytonemes, inter-tissue signaling, tumor, tumor-stroma interaction, Animals, Carcinogenesis, Cell Line, Cell Transformation, Neoplastic, Drosophila Proteins, Drosophila melanogaster, Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins, Membrane Proteins, Myoblasts, Receptors, Notch, Repressor Proteins, Signal Transduction

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Curr Biol

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Elsevier BV
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/P006175/1)
Medical Research Council (MR/L007177/1)
Wellcome Trust (212207/Z/18/Z)