Oncogenic programmes and Notch activity: an 'organized crime'?

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2014 Apr;28:78-85. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2014.04.012. Epub 2014 Apr 26.


The inappropriate Notch signalling can influence virtually all aspect of cancer, including tumour-cell growth, survival, apoptosis, angiogenesis, invasion and metastasis, although it does not do this alone. Hence, elucidating the partners of Notch that are active in cancer is now the focus of much intense research activity. The genetic toolkits available, coupled to the small size and short life of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, makes this an inexpensive and effective animal model, suited to large-scale cancer gene discovery studies. The fly eye is not only a non-vital organ but its stereotyped size and disposition also means it is easy to screen for mutations that cause tumours and metastases and provides ample opportunities to test cancer theories and to unravel unanticipated nexus between Notch and other cancer genes, or to discover unforeseen Notch's partners in cancer. These studies suggest that Notch's oncogenic capacity is brought about not simply by increasing signal strength but through partnerships, whereby oncogenes gain more by cooperating than acting individually, as in a ring 'organized crime'.

Keywords: Cancer; Drosophila; Notch.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hedgehogs / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Notch / genetics
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Receptors, Notch