Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Manuel Barbieri

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Marianna Baum

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Lidia Kos

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Ophelia Weeks

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Fernando Noriega

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


migration, invasion, Rab GTPases, endocytosis, receptor trafficking, IGFR, caveolin

Date of Defense



Metastasis is characterized pathologically by uncontrolled cell invasion, proliferation, migration and angiogenesis. Steroid hormones, such as estrogen, and growth factors, which include insulin growth factor I/II (IGF-1/IGF-2) therapy has been associated with most if not all of the features of metastasis. It has been determined that IGF-1 increases cell survival of cancer cells and potentiate the effect of E2 and other ligand growth factors on breast cancer cells. However not much information is available that comprehensively expounds on the roles of insulin growth factor receptor (IGFR) and Rab GTPases may play in breast cancer. The latter, Rab GTPases, are small signaling molecules and critical in the regulation of many cellular processes including cell migration, growth via the endocytic pathway. This research involves the role of Rab GTPases, specifically Rab5 and its guanine exchange factors (GEFs), in the promotion of cancer cell migration and invasion. Two important questions abound: Are IGFR stimulation and downstream effect involved the endocytic pathway in carcinogenesis? What role does Rab5 play in cell migration and invasion of cancer cells? The hypothesis is that growth factor signaling is dependent on Rab5 activity in mediating the aggressiveness of cancer cells. The goal is to demonstrate that IGF-1 signaling is dependent on Rab5 function in breast cancer progression. Here, the results thus far, have shown that while activation of Rab5 may mediate increased cell proliferation, migration and invasion in breast cancer cells, the Rab5 GEF, RIN1 interacts with the IGFR thereby facilitating migration and invasion activities in breast cells. Furthermore, endocytosis of the IGFR in breast cancer cells seems to be caveolin dependent as the data has shown. This taken together, the data shows that IGF-1 signaling in breast cancer cells relies on IGF-1R phosphorylation, caveolae internalization and sequestration to the early endosome RIN1 function and Rab5 activation.





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