Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Janet E. Price

Committee Member

Gary Gallick

Committee Member

Anil Sood

Committee Member

Menashe Bar Eli

Committee Member

Joya Chandra


EphA2, also known as ECK (epithelial cell kinase), is a transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase that is commonly over-expressed in cancers such as those of the prostate, colon, lung, and breast. For breast cancers, EphA2 overexpression is most prominent in the ER-negative subtype, and is associated with a higher rate of lung metastasis. Studies conducted to demonstrate the role of EphA2 in a non-cancerous environment have shown that it is very important in developmental processes, but not in normal adult tissues. These results make EphA2 a prospective therapeutic target since new therapies are needed for the more aggressive ER-negative breast cancers. A panel of breast cancer cell lines was screened for expression of EphA2 by immunoblotting. Several of the overexpressing cell lines, including BT549, MDA-MB-231, and HCC 1954 were selected for experiments utilizing siRNA for transient knockdown and shRNA for stable knockdown. Targeted knockdown of EphA2 was measured using RT-PCR and immunoblotting techniques. Here, the functions of EphA2 in the process of metastasis have been elucidated using in vitro assays that indicate cancer cell metastatic potential and in vivo studies that reveal the effect of EphA2 on mammary fat pad tumor growth, vessel formation, and the effect of using EphA2-targeting siRNA on pre-established mammary fat pad tumors. A decrease in EphA2 expression both in vitro and in vivo correlated with reduced migration and experimental metastasis of breast cancer cells. Current work is being done to investigate the mechanism behind EphA2’s participation in some of these processes. These studies are important because they have contributed to understanding the role that EphA2 plays in the progression of breast cancers to a metastatic state.


EphA2, Breast Cancer, Metastatic Breast Cancer, Metastasis, Breast Cancer Cells