Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Cancer Biology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Dihua Yu

Committee Member

Dr. Paul Chiao

Committee Member

Dr. Peng Huang

Committee Member

Dr. Varsha Gandhi

Committee Member

Dr. Hui-kuan Lin


TGF-β plays an important role in differentiation and tissue morphogenesis as well as cancer progression. However, the role of TGF-β in cancer is complicate. TGF-β has primarily been recognized as tumor suppressor, because it can directly inhibit cell proliferation of normal and premalignant epithelial cell. However, in the last stage of tumor progression, TGF-β functions as tumor promoter to enhance tumor cells metastatic dissemination and expands metastatic colonies. Currently, the mechanism of how TGF-β switches its role from tumor suppressor to promoter still remains elusive. Here we identify that overexpression of 14-3-3ζ inhibits TGF-β’s cell cytostatic program through destabilizing p53 in non-transformed human mammary epithelial cells. Mechanistically, we found that 14-3-3ζ overexpression leads to 14-3-3σ downregulation, thereby activates PI3K/Akt signaling pathway and degrades p53, and further inhibits TGF-β induced p21 expression and cell cytostatic function. In addition, we found that overexpression of 14-3-3ζ promotes TGF-β induced breast cancer cells bone metastatic colonization through stabilizing Gli2, which is an important co-transcriptional factor for p-smad2 to activate PTHrP expression and bone osteolytic effect. Taken together, we reveal a novel mechanism that 14-3-3ζ dictates the tumor suppressor or metastases promoter activities of TGF-β signaling pathway through switching p-smad2 binding partner from p53 to Gli2. The expected results will not only provide us the better understanding of the important role of 14-3-3ζ in the early stage of breast cancer development, but also deeply impact our knowledge of signaling mechanisms underlying the complex roles of TGF-β in cancer, which will give us a more accurate strategy to determine when and how anti-TGF-β targeted therapy might be effective.


14-3-3 zeta, TGF-beta, molecular switch, 14-3-3 sigma, breast cancer, bone metastases, Gli2, p53, YAP1