Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Health

First Advisor's Name

Deodutta Roy

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Quentin Felty

Third Advisor's Name

Jai Parkash

Fourth Advisor's Name

Ophelia Weeks


Breast cancer, Tamoxifen, resistance, Reactive oxygen species (ROS), p27, phosphorylation, NRF1, Oxidation, cell cycle, Kinases, phosphatases

Date of Defense



The emergence of tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitor resistance is a major problem in the treatment of breast cancer. The molecular signaling mechanism of antiestrogen resistance is not clear. Understanding the mechanisms by which resistance to these agents arise could have major clinical implications for preventing or circumventing it. Therefore, in this dissertation we have investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying antiestrogen resistance by studying the contributions of reactive oxygen species (ROS)-induced redox signaling pathways in antiestrogen resistant breast cancer cells. Our hypothesis is that the conversion of breast tumors to a tamoxifen-resistant phenotype is associated with a progressive shift towards a pro-oxidant environment of cells as a result of oxidative stress. The hypothesis of this dissertation was tested in an in vitro 2-D cell culture model employing state of the art biochemical and molecular techniques, including gene overexpression, immunoprecipitation, Western blotting, confocal imaging, ChIP, Real-Time RT-PCR, and anchorage-independent cell growth assays. We observed that tamoxifen (TAM) acts like both an oxidant and an antioxidant. Exposure of tamoxifen resistant LCC2 cell to TAM or 17 beta-estradiol (E2) induced the formation of reactive oxidant species (ROS). The formation of E2-induced ROS was inhibited by co-treatment with TAM, similar to cells pretreated with antioxidants. In LCC2 cells, treatments with either E2 or TAM were capable of inducing cell proliferation which was then inhibited by biological and chemical antioxidants. Exposure of LCC2 cells to tamoxifen resulted in a decrease in p27 expression. The LCC2 cells exposed to TAM showed an increase in p27 phosphorylation on T157 and T187. Conversely, antioxidant treatment showed an increase in p27 expression and a decrease in p27 phosphorylation on T157 and T187 in TAM exposed cells which were similar to the effects of Fulvestrant. In line with previous studies, we showed an increase in the binding of cyclin E–Cdk2 and in the level of p27 in TAM exposed cells that overexpressed biological antioxidants. Together these findings highly suggest that lowering the oxidant state of antiestrogen resistant LCC2 cells, increases LCC2 susceptibility to tamoxifen via the cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor p27.





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