Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Gary E. Gallick

Committee Member

Dr. Menashe Bar-Eli

Committee Member

Dr. Scott E. Kopetz

Committee Member

Dr. Nora M. Navone

Committee Member

Dr. Varsha V. Gandhi


Men with localized prostate cancer (PCa) have a 100% five-year survival rate, but this rate drops to 33% for men with metastatic disease. A better understanding of the metastatic process is needed to develop better therapies for PCa. Aberrant activation of protein tyrosine kinases, including Src Family Kinases (SFKs) contribute to metastasis through numerous functions, one of which leads to increased expression of cytokines, such as IL-8. However, the relationship between Src activity and IL-8 regulation is not completely understood. In cell line models, I determined that IL-8 activates Src and in turn Src activates IL-8 demonstrating a feed forward loop contributing to the migration and invasion of PCa cells.

However, IL-8 is also produced by tumor-associated stromal cells. In bone marrow derived stromal cells (HS5), I demonstrated a feed forward loop occurs as was observed in tumor cells. HS5 conditioned media increased Src activity in PCa cells. By silencing IL-8 in HS5 cells, Src activity was decreased to control levels in PCa cells as was migration and invasion. Thus, stromal cells producing IL-8 contribute to metastatic properties of PCa by a paracrine mechanism.

To examine the effect of stromal cells on tumor growth and metastatic potential of PCa in vivo, I mixed HS5 and PCa cells and co-injected them intraprostatically. I determined that tumor growth and metastases were increased. By silencing IL-8 in HS5 cells and co-injecting them with PCa cells intraprostatically, tumor growth and metastases were still increased relative to injection of PCa cells alone, but decreased relative to co-injections with PCa cells and HS5 cells.

These studies demonstrated: (1) a feed forward loop in both tumor and stromal cells, whereby IL-8 activates Src, derepressing IL-8 expression in PCa cells in vitro; (2) stromal produced IL-8 activates Src and contributes to the migration and invasion of PCa cells in vitro; and (3) stromal produced IL-8 is responsible, in part, for increases in PCa tumor growth and metastatic potential.

Together, these studies demonstrated that IL-8-mediated Src activity increases the metastatic potential of PCa and therapeutic agents interfering with the IL-8/SFK signaling axis may be useful for prevention and treatment of metastases.


prostate cancer, src family kinases, receptor tyrosine kinases, tumor microenvironment, stromal cells