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Grifoni, D., Garoia, F., Schimanski, C.C., Schmitz, G., Laurenti, E., Galle, P.R., Pession, A., Cavicchi, S., Strand, D. (2004). The human protein Hugl-1 substitutes for Drosophila lethal giant larvae tumour suppressor function in vivo.  Oncogene 23(53): 8688--8694.
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Drosophila lethal giant larvae: (lgl), discs large (dlg) and scribble (scrib) are tumour suppressor genes acting in a common pathway, whose loss of function leads to disruption of cell polarity and tissue architecture, uncontrolled proliferation and growth of neoplastic lesions. Mammalian homologues of these genes are highly conserved and evidence is emerging concerning their role in cell proliferation control and tumorigenesis in humans. Here we investigate the functional conservation between Drosophila lethal giant larvae and its human homologue Hugl-1(Llgl1). We first show that Hugl-1 is lost in human solid malignancies, supporting its role as a tumour suppressor in humans. Hugl-1 expression in homozygous lgl Drosophila mutants is able to rescue larval lethality; imaginal tissues do not show any neoplastic features, with Dlg and Scrib exhibiting the correct localization; animals undergo a complete metamorphosis and hatch as viable adults. These data demonstrate that Hugl-1 can act as a tumour suppressor in Drosophila and thus is the functional homologue of lgl. Furthermore, our data suggest that the genetic pathway including the tumour suppressors lgl, dlg and scrib may be conserved in mammals, since human scrib and mammalian dlg can also rescue their respective Drosophila mutations. Our results highlight the usefulness of fruit fly as a model system for investigating in vivo the mechanisms linking loss of cell polarity and cell proliferation control in human cancers.

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