Developing Cancer models to study signaling interactions in Drosophila

Developing Cancer models to study signaling interactions in Drosophila



Matthew T. Bilotti, Karishma Sanjay Gangwani, Nathan J. Holthaus, Kathleen Theresa McCaslin



Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States, with an estimated 147,950 new cases in 2020 (Siegel, 2020). Some of the most common mutations found in patients with CRC are Ras, APC mutations, p53 dominant negative mutations. We plan to develop a Drosophila CRC model by combining mutations in the Ras/MAPK, Wnt and p53 pathways in Drosophila intestinal stem cells. The goal is to generate multiple models (one-, two- or three-hit) that can help understand the interactions between the direct pathways affected by the mutations (e.g., the MAPK and Wnt/Wingless pathways) and also on other tumor promoting pathways like the Hippo and PI3K pathways. These particular mutations do not respond effectively to chemotherapy or radiation, so this study attempts to create a genetic model using Drosophila to identify better therapeutic targets for treatment. Drosophila are an effective genetic model due to their combination of quick repopulation time, ability to ingest cancer drugs in vivo, and the similarities they share with humans in regards to their molecular pathways make them a practical tool. To create this model, we will (a) develop a CRC model in flies (b) test the levels of Hippo, Wnt and other pathways in this model, and (c) use drugs to find inhibitors of these pathways. Our progress and review of current published models will be presented.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Madhuri Kango-Singh, Amit Singh

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project, College of Arts and Sciences

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Good Health and Well-Being

Developing Cancer models to study signaling interactions in Drosophila