Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Genes and Development

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Georg Halder

Committee Member

Hugo Bellen

Committee Member

Andreas Bergmann

Committee Member

Hamed Jafar-Nejad

Committee Member

Graeme Mardon

Committee Member

Dos Sarbassov


Defects in apical-basal cell polarity and abnormal expression of cell polarity determinants are linked to human cancer. Loss of polarity is highly correlated with malignancy. In Drosophila, perturbation of apical-basal polarity, including overexpressing the apical determinant Crumbs, can lead to uncontrolled tissue growth. Cells mutant for the basolateral determinant scribble overproliferate and can form neoplastic tumors. Interestingly, scribble mutant clones that arise in wild-type tissues are eliminated and therefore do not manifest their tumorigenic potential. However, the mechanisms by which cell polarity coordinates with growth control pathways in developing organs to achieve appropriate organ size remain obscure.

To investigate the function of apical determinants in growth regulation, I investigated the mechanism by which the apical determinant Crumbs affects growth in Drosophila imaginal discs. I found that crumbs gain and loss of function cause overgrowth and induction of Hippo target genes. In addition, Crumbs is required for the proper localization of Expanded, an upstream component of the Hippo pathway. Furthermore, we uncoupled the cell polarity and growth control function of Crb through structure-functional analysis. Taken together, our data identify a role of Crb in growth regulation specifically through modulation of the Hippo pathway.

To further explore the role of polarity in growth control, I investigated how cells mutant for basolateral determinants are eliminated by using patches of cells mutant for scribble (scribble mutant clones) as a model system. We found that competitive cell-cell interactions eliminate tumorigenic scribble cells by modulation of the Hippo pathway. The regulation of Hippo signaling is required and sufficient to restrain the tumorous growth of scribble mutant cells. Artificially increasing the relative fitness of scribble mutant cells unleashes their tumorigenic potential. Therefore, we have identified a novel tumor-suppression mechanism that depends on signaling between normal and tumorigenic cells. These data identify evasion of cell competition as a critical step toward malignancy and illustrate a role for wild-type tissue in eliminating abnormal cells and preventing the formation of tumors.


polarity, growth, drosophila, scribble, crumbs, hippo