“Cell competition between normal and transformed epithelial cells in mammals”
Research topic: Cell competition
In Fujita lab, we are interested in cell competition between normal and transformed epithelial cells in mammals. Using mammalian cell culture and mouse model systems, we have revealed that at the initial stage of carcinogenesis, the newly emerging transformed cells and surrounding normal epithelial cells often compete with each other for survival, a process called cell competition. For example, when oncoprotein RasV12- or v-Src-expressing cells are surrounded by normal epithelial cells, the transformed cells are apically eliminated from epithelial tissues. We also demonstrate that normal epithelial cells are able to recognize and actively eliminate the neighboring transformed cells, implying that normal epithelia have anti-tumor activity that does not involve immune cells. This homeostatic machinery is termed EDAC (Epithelial Defense Against Cancer).
We are currently trying to identify key regulators of cell competition that are involved in intercellular recognition and the downstream signaling pathways. By further developing this study, we aim to establish a novel type of cancer preventive medicine.