Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Public Health

Advisor's Name

Deodutta Roy

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Quentin Felty

Advisor's Name

Jai Parkash

Advisor's Name

Alejandro Barbieri

Keywords

breast cancer, tamoxifen resistance, thioredoxin, p27, Jab1, reactive oxygen species

Date of Defense

3-11-2011

Abstract

A major problem with breast cancer treatment is the prevalence of antiestrogen resistance, be it de novo or acquired after continued use. Many of the underlying mechanisms of antiestrogen resistance are not clear, although estrogen receptor-mediated actions have been identified as a pathway that is blocked by antiestrogens. Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), such as tamoxifen, are capable of producing reactive oxygen species (ROS) through metabolic activation, and these ROS, at high levels, can induce irreversible growth arrest that is similar to the growth arrest incurred by SERMs. This suggests that SERM-mediated growth arrest may also be through ROS accumulation. Breast cancer receiving long-term antiestrogen treatment appears to adapt to this increased, persistent level of ROS. This, in turn, leads to the disruption of reversible redox signaling that involves redox-sensitive phosphatases and protein kinases and transcription factors. This has downstream consequences for apoptosis, cell cycle progression, and cell metabolism. For this dissertation, we explored if altering the ROS formed by tamoxifen also alters sensitivity of the drug in resistant cells. We explored an association with a thioredoxin/Jab1/p27 pathway, and a possible role of dysregulation of thioredoxin-mediated redox regulation contributing to the development of antiestrogen resistance in breast cancer. We used standard laboratory techniques to perform proteomic assays that showed cell proliferation, protein concentrations, redox states, and protein-protein interactions. We found that increasing thioredoxin reductase levels, and thus increasing the amount of reduced thioredoxin, increased tamoxifen sensitivity in previously resistant cells, as well as altered estrogen and tamoxifen-induced ROS. We also found that decreasing levels of Jab1 protein also increased tamoxifen sensitivity, and that the downstream effects showed a decrease p27 phosphorylation in both cases. We conclude that the chronic use of tamoxifen can lead to an increase in ROS that alters cell signaling and causing cell growth in the presence of tamoxifen, and that this resistant cell growth can be reversed with an alteration to the thioredoxin/Jab1 pathway.

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