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Cells compete for Decapentaplegic survival factor to prevent apoptosis in Drosophila wing development

Nature volume 416, pages 755759 (18 April 2002) | Download Citation

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Abstract

During the growth of Drosophila imaginal discs a process called ‘cell competition’1 eliminates slow-proliferating but otherwise viable cells. We report here that cell competition requires the function of the brinker (brk) gene, whose expression is normally repressed by Decapentaplegic (Dpp) signalling2,3,4 but is upregulated in slow-growing Minute/+ cells. Excess brk expression activates the c-Jun amino-terminal kinase pathway, which in turn triggers apoptosis in these cells. We propose that slow-proliferating cells upregulate Brk levels owing to a disadvantage in competing for, or in transducing, the Dpp survival signal. This sequence of events might represent a general mechanism by which weaker cells are eliminated from a growing population, and might serve as a method of controlling cell number and optimizing tissue fitness and hence organ function.

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Acknowledgements

We thank T. Adachi-Yamada, G. Campbell, M. Calleja, A. Cantarero, S. González-Crespo, M. Gonzalez-Gaitan, E. Hafen, A. Jazwinska, E. Martin-Blanco, B. Müller, E. Sánchez-Herrero, M. Suzanne and P. ten Dijke for fly stocks and antibodies; R. González for technical assistance; S. Campuzano for help with the TUNEL technique; C. Sánchez for help with confocal microscopy; and M. Calleja, O. Gerlitz, E. Hafen, G. Hausmann, P. Lawrence, F. Martin, B. Müller, D. Nellen, E. Sánchez-Herrero, H. Stocker and members of our laboratories for discussions. E.M. was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid and the Swiss National Science Foundation.

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Affiliations

  1. *Institut für Molekularbiologie, Universität Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zürich, Switzerland

    • Eduardo Moreno
    •  & Konrad Basler
  2. †Centro de Biologia Molecular CSIC-UAM, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain

    • Eduardo Moreno
    •  & Ginés Morata

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Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Konrad Basler or Ginés Morata.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/416755a

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