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Cell competition, apoptosis and cancer

Life and Matter Sciences International Symposium October 25-26, 2016 Madrid

General information

Venue: Fundación Ramón Areces, Vitruvio, 5. 28006. Madrid
Limited capacity

  • Free registration

Organized by:

Fundación Ramón Areces


Yasuyuki FujitaHokkaido University. Sapporo. Japan.

Ginés MorataCentro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa. CSIC-UAM. Spain

Miguel TorresCentro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III. Spain

  • Description
  • Programme

The phenomenon of cell competition is an interactive process originally discovered in Drosophila; it is a developmental mechanism that identifies and eliminates cells that are weaker than their neighbours or have features that make them different or not well adapted to their surroundings. It appears to be an important homeostatic mechanism to contribute to the general fitness of developing tissues. Within this surveillance function cell competition appears to be responsible for the removal of malignant or aberrant cells that may appear during development, indicating that it normally functions as a tumour suppressing mechanism. Several recent studies from the vertebrate field indicate that cell competition also occurs in vertebrates where it performs similar functions. Thus it appears to be a universal mechanism of the Animal Kingdom responsible for the elimination of unfit or undesirable cells that may compromise the fitness or viability of the organism.

One appealing aspect of the cell competition phenomenon is its connection with tumorigenesis, which has been analysed both in Drosophila and in vertebrates. The role of cell competition as tumour suppressor derives from its general surveillance function described above; it recognises tumour cells as aberrant and proceeds to eliminate them. Studies in Drosophila have shown that the elimination of outcompeted cells occurs by regular apoptosis mediated by the activation of the Jun-N terminal Kinase (JNK) pathway that induces the function of pro-apoptotic genes like hid or reaper. As in Drosophila, cell competition in vertebrates also appears to have a therapeutic role in eliminating oncogenic cells in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, compromising cell competition in the progenitors of T cells gives rise to lymphoblastic leukaemia that resembles closely the human disease.

One unexpected observation, made in Drosophila but also in the mouse is that programmed cell death (apoptosis), which normally functions as anti-tumour factor, can also act stimulating tumour growth. Secreted growth factors like Wingless (Wg) and Decapentaplegic (Dpp) in Drosophila and Prostaglandin E2 in mouse cells appear to be responsible for the growth stimulus. Since cell competition is an apoptotic phenomenon it has raised the possibility that it may also act stimulating tumour growth when there is a continuous flux of cells entering cell competition/apoptosis. The molecular mechanism behind this proliferative signalling from apoptotic cells has not been elucidated, although signalling pathways associated with apoptosis, like the JNK pathway, appear to be involved.

In the International Meeting on Cell Competition in Development and Cancer sponsored by the Fundación Ramon Areces, the leading figures in the field will get together to present the most recent results and have an open discussion about the general mechanisms and overall function of cell competition. Of special interest will be the presentation of new results establishing the role of cell competition in vertebrates. The links between apoptosis, cell competition and tumorigenesis, together with the molecular mechanisms of cell competition, will also be major themes of discussion.

Tuesday, 25


Opening session

Federico Mayor Zaragoza 
Chairman, Scientific Council. Fundación Ramón Areces. Spain. 

José María Medina 
Deputy Chairman, Scientific Council. Fundación Ramón Areces. Spain. 

Yasuyuki Fujita 
Ginés Morata 
Miguel Torres 

Coordinators of the symposium. 

FIRST SESSION: Cell competition in development


Eduardo Moreno 
Champalimaud Centre. Lisbon. Portugal. 


Genetic analysis of Minute cell competition

Nicholas Baker
Albert Einstein College. Nueva York. USA. 


Live analysis of Myc-regulated spontaneous competition in embryonic pluripotent cells

Miguel Torres
Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC). Madrid.  Spain.


In vivo analysis of spontaneous competitive apoptosis in Drosophila epidermis

Erina Kuranaga
Riken Center. Kobe. Japan.




Metabolic control of tissue repair and homeostasis in Drosophila

Masayuki Miura
Tokio University. Japan. 


Epithelial cell turnover corrects developmental distortion: a possible role of cell competition in morphogenetic robustness

Tatsushi Igaki
Kyoto University. Japan. 


How does cell competition contribute to animal development?

Laura Johnston
Columbia University. Nueva York. USA. 



SECOND SESSION: Mechanisms of cell competition


Miguel Torres 
Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC). Madrid. Spain.  


Three types of cell competition: resources, direct fitness comparison and mechanical

Eduardo Moreno
Champalimaud Centre. Lisboa. Portugal.


Cell Competition and Warburg Effect

Yasuyuki Fujita
Hokkaido University. Sapporo.  Japan.




How the JAK/STAT pathway controls competitive interactions between cells

Erika Bach
New York University. USA. 


The making of a loser cell

Eugenia Piddini
Gurdon Institute. Cambridge. UK. 


mTOR regulation of cell fitness during early mammalian development

Tristan Rodriguez
Imperial College London. UK. 

Wednesday, 26

THIRD SESSION: Apoptosis, cell competition and cancer. I


Yasuyuki Fujita 
Hokkaido University. Sapporo. Japan.  


Regulation of apoptosis by IAPs and their antagonists

Hermann Steller
Rockefeller University. Nueva York. USA. 


ARTS protein regulates apoptosis and tumour suppression by causing degradation of XIAP and Bcl-2

Sarit Larisch
University of Haifa. Israel. 


Tumour development at the edge: p53 and cell competition

Ignacio Flores
Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC). Madrid. Spain.





Short talks



FOURTH SESSION: Apoptosis, cell competition and cancer. II


Peter A. Lawrence 
University of Cambridge. UK. 


Signalling by apoptotic cells in development and cancer

Ainhoa Pérez-Garijo
Rockefeller University. Nueva York.USA. 


El papel de la apoptosis en competición celular y formación de tumores

Ginés Morata
Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa. CSIC-UAM. Madrid. Spain.  


Cell competition in T lymphocyte development

Vera Martins
Gulbenkian Institute. Lisbon. Portugal. 


General Discussion: The role(s) of Cell competition in Development and Cancer
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