A drosophila model for EGFR-Ras and PI3K-dependent human glioma

PLoS Genet. 2009 Feb;5(2):e1000374. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000374. Epub 2009 Feb 13.


Gliomas, the most common malignant tumors of the nervous system, frequently harbor mutations that activate the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K) signaling pathways. To investigate the genetic basis of this disease, we developed a glioma model in Drosophila. We found that constitutive coactivation of EGFR-Ras and PI3K pathways in Drosophila glia and glial precursors gives rise to neoplastic, invasive glial cells that create transplantable tumor-like growths, mimicking human glioma. Our model represents a robust organotypic and cell-type-specific Drosophila cancer model in which malignant cells are created by mutations in signature genes and pathways thought to be driving forces in a homologous human cancer. Genetic analyses demonstrated that EGFR and PI3K initiate malignant neoplastic transformation via a combinatorial genetic network composed primarily of other pathways commonly mutated or activated in human glioma, including the Tor, Myc, G1 Cyclins-Cdks, and Rb-E2F pathways. This network acts synergistically to coordinately stimulate cell cycle entry and progression, protein translation, and inappropriate cellular growth and migration. In particular, we found that the fly orthologs of CyclinE, Cdc25, and Myc are key rate-limiting genes required for glial neoplasia. Moreover, orthologs of Sin1, Rictor, and Cdk4 are genes required only for abnormal neoplastic glial proliferation but not for glial development. These and other genes within this network may represent important therapeutic targets in human glioma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • Glioma / genetics*
  • Glioma / metabolism
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Neuroglia / cytology
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / genetics
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • ras Proteins / genetics
  • ras Proteins / metabolism*


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • ErbB Receptors
  • ras Proteins