Modelling Cancer in Drosophila: The Next Generation

Louise Y. Cheng, Linda May Parsons, Helena Elizabeth Richardson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEncyclopaedia / Dictionary EntryOther


Drosophila melanogaster, the vinegar fly, has been utilised as a genetic amenable model organism for more than 100 years. In recent years, its use in modelling human cancer has been greatly expanding. In this article, an update of the recent advances in Drosophila research towards understanding cancer development is provided. Genetic analysis in Drosophila has provided considerable insight into the mechanisms controlling tissue growth and cell invasion/metastasis during tumourigenesis, as well as the importance of stem cells in tissue regeneration and cancer, and how genes cooperate in tumourigenesis.  Several evolutionarily conserved signalling pathways are emerging as playing key roles in many of these processes, including the Jun kinase, Notch, Wnt, Jak/Stat and the Hippo tissue growth control pathway.  Drosophila has also been specifically utilised to model certain human cancers, by expression of the human versions of cancer-causing genes, including multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2, glioblastoma and acute myeloid leukaemia. Finally, the use of Drosophila as a vehicle for anticancer drug discovery is beginning to make an important impact in combating human cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Life Sciences
Place of PublicationChichester UK
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Drosophila
  • cancer
  • cell polarity
  • proliferation
  • survival
  • differentiation
  • invasion/metastasis
  • cell competition
  • tumour microenvironment
  • chemical screening

Cite this

Cheng, L. Y., Parsons, L. M., & Richardson, H. E. (2013). Modelling Cancer in Drosophila: The Next Generation. In Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (pp. 1-17). John Wiley & Sons.