Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Genetics

First Advisor

Joseph Landry


Increasingly the role of epigenetic machinery as a bridge between underlying DNA sequence and cellular phenotype is being discovered. The establishment of a myriad of unique cellular types sharing identical gene sequences in a multicellular organism gives a broad sense for the inherent role of epigenetic influence on cell differentiation. Importantly, the epigenetic mechanisms involved in establishing cell identity unsurprisingly contribute to diseased states, including cancer. Recent research continues to elucidate contributory roles of epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation, histone modification, and microRNA regulation, in human cancers. Additionally, chromatin remodelers, such as the Nucleosome Remodeling Factor (NURF), have been identified as important regulators for normal cell biology. While much has been done to identify and characterize the role of NURF chromatin remodeling complex as a key regulator of development in a number of model organisms, little has been published on the implications of NURF in diseases such as cancer. Our preliminary data shows dysregulation of E-cadherins, N-cadherins, and MHC-I genes in Bptf (an essential subunit of NURF) knocked down murine breast cancer cell lines. These proteins have well documented roles in the development and metastatic progression of cancers. To study the effect of Bptf knockdown on the development and progression of cancer we injected Bptf knocked down mouse breast cancer cell lines, 4T1, 66cl4, and 67NR, into syngenic BALB/c mice. Our findings reveal decreased tumor growth in 66cl4 and 67NR as measured by tumor weight at 3-4 weeks post injection. Tumor growth did not appear to be significantly affected in 4T1 challenged mice. However, mice inoculated with Bptf knockdown 4T1 cell lines have decreased metastasis to lungs as compared to control while metastasis of 66cl4 tumors to the lungs appear unaffected. To assess the role of the immune system in decreasing tumor growth in BALB/c mice, we injected 66cl4 tumors into NOD-SCID-Gamma (NSG) immune deficient mice. The tumors from these mice show no difference in tumor growth between Bptf knockdown and control tumors, implicating a role for the immune system regulating the decreased tumor weight in BALB/c mice. To delineate which immune cell effector may impede breast cancer carcinogenesis, we performed an in vitro natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity assay against 66cl4 tumors and found greater susceptibility to NK killing in Bptf knockdown tumors.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

July 2012