Conservation of major signaling pathways between humans and flies has made Drosophila a useful model organism for cancer research. Our understanding of the mechanisms regulating cell growth, differentiation and development has been considerably advanced by studies in Drosophila. Several recent high profile studies have examined the processes constraining the metastatic growth of tumor cells in fruit fly models. Cell invasion can be studied in the context of an in vivo setting in flies, enabling the genetic requirements of the microenvironment of tumor cells undergoing metastasis to be analyzed. This Perspective discusses the strengths and limitations of Drosophila models of cancer invasion and the unique tools that have enabled these studies. It also highlights several recent reports that together make a strong case for Drosophila as a system with the potential for both testing novel concepts in tumor progression and cell invasion, and for uncovering players in metastasis.
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