Drosophila and the Hallmarks of Cancer

  • Theodoulakis Christofi
  • Yiorgos ApidianakisEmail author
Part of the Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology book series (ABE, volume 135)


Cancer was the disease of the twentieth century. Today it is still a leading cause of death worldwide despite being intensively investigated. Abundant knowledge exists regarding the pathological and molecular mechanisms that drive healthy cells to become malignant and form metastatic tumors. The relation of oncogenes and tumor suppressors to the genetic trigger of carcinogenesis is unquestionable. However, the development of the disease requires many characteristics that due to their proven role in cancer are collectively described as the “hallmarks of cancer.” We highlight here the historic discoveries made using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster and its contributions to biomedical and cancer research. Flies are utilized as a model organism for the investigation of each and every aspect of cancer hallmarks. Due to the significant conservation between flies and mammals at the signaling and tissue physiology level it is possible to explore the genes and mechanisms responsible for cancer pathogenesis in flies. Recent Drosophila studies suggest novel aspects of therapeutic intervention and are expected to guide cancer research in the twenty-first century.

Graphical Abstract


Cancer Disease Drosophila Hallmark Model Tumor 









Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription


Lethal giant larvae




Discs large


Epidermal growth factor


Mitogen-activated protein kinase


c-Jun N-terminal kinase


Transforming growth factor


Upstream activating sequence


Gal4 technique for realtime and clonal expression


Flippase recognition target


Mosaic analysis with a repressible cell marker






POU domain protein 1


Cancer stem cells


Drosophila Nedd2-like caspase


Death caspase-1


Platelet-derived growth factor


Phosphatidylserine receptor


Drosophila homologue of secreted protein, acidic, cysteine-rich


Intestinal stem cells


Multiple endocrine neoplasia


Rearranged during transfection


C-terminal Src kinase


Polycomb group




Tumor protein 53


Drosophila melanogaster inhibitor of apoptosis-1


Inhibitor of apoptosis


B-cell lymphoma


Death executioner Bcl-2


Bone morphogenetic protein


P-element induced wimpy testis


Germline stem cell


Fibroblast growth factor


Long interspersed (transposable) elements


Ribonucleic acid interference


Vascular endothelial growth factor






Hypoxia-inducible factor


Drosophila Von Hippel–Lindau tumor suppressor

B. mori

Bombyx mori


Fibroblast growth factor receptor


Epidermal growth factor receptor


Viral fibroblast growth factor


Immune deficiency pathway


Epithelial–mesenchymal transition


Matrix metalloproteinase

A-P boundary

Anterior–posterior boundary




Rho GTPase




Green fluorescent protein


Synaptonemal complex protein 1


Lethal 3 malignant brain tumor


Adenosine triphosphate


Glucose transporter 1


Target of rapamycin


Insulin receptor/phosphoinositide 3-kinase


Trithorax group

P. aeruginosa

Pseudomonas aeruginosa




Nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B-cells


Ubiquitin carrier protein 9


Adenomatous polyposis coli


Tuberous sclerosis complex


Ribosomal protein S6 kinase


Reactive oxygen species




Receptor tyrosine kinase


Sonic hedgehog


Indian hedgehog


Desert Hedgehog


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of CyprusNicosiaCyprus

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