14-3-3 zeta overexpression in early stage breast disease and tumor progression

Christopher George Danes, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Recent progress in diagnostic tools allows many breast cancers to be detected at an early pre-invasive stage. Thus, a better understanding of the molecular basis of early breast cancer progression is essential. 14-3-3 is a family of highly conserved and ubiquitously expressed proteins that are expressed in all eukaryotic organisms. In mammals there are seven isoforms, which bind to phosphor-serine/threonine residues regulating essential cellular processes such as signal transduction, cell cycle progression, and apoptosis. Our laboratory has discovered that a particular 14-3-3 family member, Zeta, is overexpressed in over 40% of breast tumor tissues. Furthermore, I examined the stage of breast disease in which 14-3-3ζ overexpression occurs and found that increased expression of 14-3-3ζ begins at the stage of atypical ductal hyperplasia, a very early stage of breast disease that confers increased risk for progress toward breast cancer. To determine whether 14-3-3ζ overexpression is a decisive early event in breast cancer, I overexpressed 14-3-3ζ in MCF10A cells, a non-transformed mammary epithelial cell (MEC) line and examined its impact on acini formation in a three dimensional (3D) culture model which simulates a basic unit of structure in the mammary gland. I discovered that 14-3-3ζ overexpression severely disrupted the acini architecture resulting in the disruption of polarity and luminal filling. Both are critical morphological events in the pre-neoplastic breast disease. This thesis focuses on the molecular mechanism of luminal filling. Proper lumen formation is a result of anoikis, a specific type apoptosis of cells not attached to the basement membrane. I found that 14-3-3ζ overexpression conferred a resistance to anoikis. Additionally, 14-3-3ζ overexpression in MCF10A cells and in MECs from 14-3-3ζ transgenic mice reduced expression of p53, which is known to mediate anoikis. Mechanistically, 14-3-3ζ induced hyperactivation of the PI3K/Akt pathway which led to phosphorylation and translocation of the MDM2 to the nucleus resulting in increased p53 degradation. Ectopic expression of p53 restored luminal apoptosis in 14-3-3ζ overexpressing MCF10A acini in 3D cultures. These data suggest that 14-3-3ζ overexpression is a critical event in early breast disease and down-regulation of p53 is one of the mechanisms by which 14-3-3ζ alters MEC acini structure and may increase the risk of progression to breast cancer.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Danes, Christopher George, "14-3-3 zeta overexpression in early stage breast disease and tumor progression" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3287846.