Theses Doctoral

Ras, p63 and breast cancer

Yoh, Kathryn Elizabeth

As a master regulator of the epithelial state, p63 is a family member of the well-known tumor suppressor p53. It has previously been connected to a cancer-associated process, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and here we find that it can be regulated by oncogenes involved in breast tumorigenesis. Specifically, activated forms of PIK3CA and H-RAS are able to strongly repress expression of ∆Np63α, which is the major p63 isoform in epithelial cells. In mammary epithelial lines, this oncogene downregulation occurs at the transcriptional level, and complete repression occurs over the course of several days.
As p63 is repressed, the cells undergo EMT and acquire the ability to invade individually through a 3D collagen matrix. Strikingly, even when p63 is suppressed but no oncogene action is present, these cells undergo a mesenchymal shift, suggesting the importance of this gene in maintaining the epithelial state. Furthermore, it is particularly interesting that p63 protein and RNA levels are often low in breast tumors. By connecting H-RAS and PIK3CA signaling to p63, it is hypothesized that such oncogene suppression could account for tumor progression in cases where p63 levels are low. Here, it is proposed that p63 acts in a tumor-suppressive manner, although it can be overcome by oncogenes leading to changes in differentiation state and migratory capability, therefore drastically affecting breast carcinogenesis.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Biological Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Prywes, Ron
Prives, Carol L.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 23, 2016