Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Pharmacology & Toxicology

First Advisor

Steven Grossman

Second Advisor

Richard Moran

Third Advisor

Jill Bettinger

Fourth Advisor

Joyce Lloyd

Fifth Advisor

Larisa Litovchick


The paralogous C-terminal binding proteins (CtBP) 1 and 2 are evolutionarily conserved transcriptional coregulators that target and disrupt the expression of several genes essential for multiple cellular processes critical to regulating tumor formation. CtBP’s ability to govern the transcription of genes necessary for apoptosis, tumor suppression, invasion/migration and EMT gives rise to its oncogenic activities. Both isoforms of CtBP are found to be overexpressed in cancers including colorectal, pancreatic, ovarian, and breast, with higher levels correlating to lower overall median survival. Although multiple lines of evidence suggest CtBP plays a role in tumorigenesis, it has never been formally characterized as an oncogene. For this reason, the goal of this dissertation was to design a set of experiments to determine the transforming ability of CtBP2 in vitro using both murine and human fibroblast and in vivo using the Apcmin/+ mouse model of cancer. Specifically, we demonstrate that overexpression of CtBP2 alone can drive transformation of NIH3T3 cells leading to loss of contact inhibition, increased x invasion/migration, and anchorage independent growth. In addition, CtBP2 was found to cooperate with the large T-antigen (LT) component of the simian virus 40 (SV40) to lead to transformation of murine embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) and with both LT and small T-antigen (ST) to induce migration/invasion and anchorage-independent growth in BJ human foreskin fibroblasts. To confirm the role of Ctbp2 in a mouse tumor model with Ctbp overexpression, we bred Apcmin/+ mice to Ctbp2 heterozygous (Ctbp2+/-) mice, which otherwise live normal lifespans. CtBP is a known target of the APC tumor suppressor and is thus stabilized in APC mutated human colon cancers and is found in high levels in Apcmin/+ polyps. Remarkably, removing an allele of Ctbp2 doubled the median survival of Apcmin/+ mice (P <0.001) and reduced polyp formation to near undetectable levels. These data suggest the importance of CtBP2 in driving cellular transformation and identify it as a potential target for prevention or therapy in APC mutant backgrounds.


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