Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 26287461
Nature 2015 Aug;524(7566):476-80
Cell-cell intercalation is used in several developmental processes to shape the normal body plan. There is no clear evidence that intercalation is involved in pathologies. Here we use the proto-oncogene myc to study a process analogous to early phase of tumour expansion: myc-induced cell competition. Cell competition is a conserved mechanism driving the elimination of slow-proliferating cells (so-called ‘losers’) by faster-proliferating neighbours (so-called ‘winners’) through apoptosis and is important in preventing developmental malformations and maintain tissue fitness. Here we show, using long-term live imaging of myc-driven competition in the Drosophila pupal notum and in the wing imaginal disc, that the probability of elimination of loser cells correlates with the surface of contact shared with winners. As such, modifying loser-winner interface morphology can modulate the strength of competition. We further show that elimination of loser clones requires winner-loser cell mixing through cell-cell intercalation. Cell mixing is driven by differential growth and the high tension at winner-winner interfaces relative to winner-loser and loser-loser interfaces, which leads to a preferential stabilization of winner-loser contacts and reduction of clone compactness over time. Differences in tension are generated by a relative difference in F-actin levels between loser and winner junctions, induced by differential levels of the membrane lipid phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate. Our results establish the first link between cell-cell intercalation induced by a proto-oncogene and how it promotes invasiveness and destruction of healthy tissues.