Cell Competition: Emerging Mechanisms to Eliminate Neighbors

Dev Growth Differ. 2018 Dec;60(9):522-530. doi: 10.1111/dgd.12575. Epub 2018 Nov 15.


Cell competition is a context-dependent cell elimination through short-range cell-cell interaction, in which cells with higher fitness eliminate neighboring less-fit or oncogenic cells within the growing tissue. Cell competition can be triggered by many different factors such as heterozygous mutations in the ribosomal protein genes (which are called "Minute" mutations), elevated Myc, Yorkie/YAP, Wg/Wnt, JAK-STAT, Ras, or Src activity, and loss of Mahjong/VprBP, endocytic pathway components, or apicobasal cell polarity. Studies on the mechanisms and roles of cell competition have suggested that cell competition can be divided into two types: selection of fitter cells or elimination of oncogenic cells. The former type of cell competition includes Minute or Myc-induced cell competition that is considered to be dependent on the relative level of protein synthesis. The later type of cell competition includes tumor-suppressive cell competition triggered by loss of cell polarity genes such as scribble (scrib) or discs large (dlg). Genetic studies in Drosophila during the past decade have provided significant progress in understanding the mechanisms of these phenomena. At the same time, these studies have now raised new questions; how do different mechanisms contribute or cooperate to drive cell competition, do common mechanisms exist in different types of cell competition, and what are the physiological roles of these cell competition phenomena?

Keywords: Drosophila; Cell-cell interaction; cell competition; cell death; tumor suppression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / genetics
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Mutation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins pp60(c-src) / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins pp60(c-src) / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / genetics


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins pp60(c-src)