Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Cancer Biology

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Sendurai A. Mani

Committee Member

Sue-Hwa Lin

Committee Member

Pierre McCrea

Committee Member

Kapil Mehta

Committee Member

Naoto Ueno


Metastasis is the ultimate cause for the majority of cancer-related deaths. The forkhead box transcription factor FOXC2 is known to be involved in regulating metastasis as well as a variety of developmental processes, including the formation of lymphatic and cardiovascular systems. Previous studies have shown that FOXC2 protein is localized either in the nucleus and/or in the cytoplasm of human breast tumor cells. This pattern of localization is similar to that of another forkhead family member, FOXO3a. Additionally, localization of FOXO3a is known to be differentially regulated by upstream kinase AKT. Therefore, I investigated whether FOXC2 localization could also be regulated by upstream kinases. Analysis of FOXC2 protein sequence revealed two potential phosphorylation sites for GSK-3β. Furthermore, inhibition of GSK-3βsignificantly reduces FOXC2 protein. In addition, exposure of HMLE Twist cells expressing endogenous FOXC2 to the GSK-3β inhibitor, TWS119, results in accumulation of FOXC2 protein in the cytoplasm with concomitant decrease in the nucleus in a time-dependent manner. Furthermore, continued treatment with TWS119 eventually induces epithelial morphology and decreased stem cell properties including sphere formation in these cells. Further characterization of FOXC2- GSK-3β interaction and the associated signaling cascade are necessary to determine the effect of FOXC2 phosphorylation by GSK-3β on EMT and metastasis.


FOXC2, GSK-3β inhibitor, Breast Cancer Metastasis, Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT)



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