This work is part of a retrospective collection of 179 electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) from the VCU Libraries pilot ETD system that were designated as available only to VCU users. Please contact us at if you have questions or if you are the author of one of these and would like to release it for online public access.

Non-VCU users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis through interlibrary loan.

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Genetics

First Advisor

Dr. Jolene Windle


The ras genes, including Harvey ras (H-ras) and Kirsten ras (K-ras), were among the first oncogenes discovered, and are the most commonly mutated oncogenes in human cancer. The H-ras and K-ras proteins are 85% identical and share considerable functional overlap. However, there is increasing evidence for functional differences between the two proteins that may impart different properties to tumors arising from mutations in these two genes. To study the functional differences between H-ras and K-ras in an in vivo setting, we used two different transgenic mouse tumor models, MMTV-H-ras and MMTV-K-ras mice. The MMTV-H-ras mice were originally developed in Dr. Leder's lab and have been well characterized with regard to tumor properties. We created a similar line of transgenic mice expressing mutant K-ras (G12V) under the control of the MMTV promoter. Female mice of both lines develop primarily mammary tumors. We compared differences between the H-ras and K-ras lines with regard to age of tumor onset, rate of tumor growth, and rates of tumor proliferation and apoptosis. The tumors were also characterized by microarray analysis to look for genes that are differentially expressed in the two tumor types. Finally, the response of tumors to two common chemotherapeutic agents, doxorubicin and taxol, was also measured. We found that tumors in the MMTV-H-ras and MMTV-K-ras mice were similar with respect to several tumor properties, including age of onset, histopathology, and proliferation and apoptotic indices. While tumors from mice of these two genotypes clustered separately in an unsupervised analysis of gene expression profiles, the differentially expressed genes did not fall within any well-defined signaling pathways. However, drug studies indicated differences in response to doxorubicin between the two isoforms, with H-ras tumors responding better than K-ras tumors. In conclusion, our studies point to specific differences between H-ras and K-ras that may represent novel signaling pathways not currently known to be regulated by Ras. In spite of the few differences in properties of tumors arising from H-ras and K-ras mutation, there might be differences in response to chemotherapeutic agents that could have clinical significance.


Part of Retrospective ETD Collection, restricted to VCU only.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008