Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Aylin Rizki


Acquisition of invasiveness through extracellular matrix is a crucial characteristic of transition to malignancy in the breast. It was previously shown that Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK-1), a mitotic kinase and genome stability regulator, is involved in acquisition of invasiveness in a breast cell model (HMT-3522 cell line) of pre-invasive to invasive transition. This and other data led to the suggestion that a new class of genes called GISEM for Genome Instability and Extracellular Matrix Invasiveness may exist. Previous lab data show that XRCC3 is found downregulated in progression from preinvasive to invasive phenotype. This led to the hypothesis that XRCC3 may be a negative regulator of invasion. To support this hypothesis, overexpression of XRCC3 in the invasive T4-2 cells downregulated invasion, but also growth. In order to verify the role of XRCC3 in invasiveness, and determine whether it is independent from any effects on growth, we tested the effect of downregulating XRCC3 on the invasiveness of T4-2 cells. Short-term downregulation of XRCC3 using siRNAs produced a significant increase in invasiveness, suggesting a role for XRCC3 as a negative regulator of invasion. During the invasion assay time course, XRCC3 downregulation had no effect on growth or apoptosis supporting the idea that this is a direct effect on invasion and not an artifact of the assay. XRCC3 is one amongst the five members of the RAD51 paralog family, consisting of accessory proteins or RAD51 cofactors (namely RAD51B, RAD51C, RAD51D, XRCC2 and XRCC3) which interact with each other to form complexes (BCDX2, BC, DX2 and CX3) that collaboratively assist RAD51 in homologous recombinational repair (HRR) of DNA double-strand breaks. To see if these interactions are important in terms of invasion, as they have been demonstrated for DNA repair, we studied the effect of XRCC3 downregulation on the levels of RAD51 paralogs. We found lowered levels of RAD51C, but not RAD51B or RAD51D, when XRCC3 was downregulated. Since XRCC3 forms the CX3 complex with RAD51C, we downregulated RAD51C using siRNAs in T4-2 cells and found this to significantly increase invasiveness. Consistent with previous findings by other groups, downregulating RAD51C also lead to decreased levels of XRCC3 in invasive T4-2 cells. These results suggest that the XRCC3-RAD51C interaction is important for invasion as well as the previously studied DNA repair function. In delineating the mechanism by which XRCC3 acts as a negative regulator of invasion, we further questioned if XRCC3 alters secreted factors that are important for the invasiveness of T4-2 cells and tested the effects of conditioned medium (CM) from XRCC3 altered T4-2 cells on parental T4-2 cells’ ability to invade. Results show a significant increase in invading T4-2 cells when suspended in CM from XRCC3 siRNA transfected T4-2 cells, suggesting a direct effect of XRCC3 siRNAs on the ability of T4-2 CM to induce invasiveness in T4-2 cells. Furthermore, we investigated the effects of XRCC3 inhibition on cell surface integrins and focal adhesion kinase (FAK). Indirect immunofluorescence results show increased formation of focal adhesions containing two phosphorylated FAK residues- autophosphorylated FAK-Y397 and FAK-Y861 (previously implicated in increased migration and invasion of tumor cells) in XRCC3 siRNA transfected T4-2 cells. Overall, these results support a new role of XRCC3 in invasion, in addition to its previously reported role in DNA repair. These findings imply that loss of XRCC3 function in cancer progression would upregulate invasion as well as downregulate DNA repair and genome stability. Therefore, stabilization of XRCC3 function could provide a promising therapeutic against breast cancer progression. The dual role of XRCC3 in invasion and DNA repair also renders it an attractive candidate risk biomarker of breast pre-cancer to invasive cancer progression.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2010