Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Pathology and Cell Biology

Major Professor

Patricia A. Kruk, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Santo V. Nicosia, M.D.

Committee Member

Jin Q. Cheng, M.D., Ph.D.

Committee Member

David E. Birk, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mumtaz Rojiani, Ph.D.


BRAT, Matrix metalloproteinase 1, ovarian surface epithelium, breast cancer, mutation


Familial history is the strongest risk factor for developing ovarian cancer (OC), and a significant contributor to breast cancer risk. Most hereditary breast cancers and OCs are associated with mutation of the tumor suppressor Breast and Ovarian Cancer Susceptibility Gene 1 (BRCA1). Studying risk-associated BRCA1 truncation mutations, such as the founder mutation 185delAG, may reveal signaling pathways important in OC etiology. Recent studies have shown novel BRCA1 mutant functions that may contribute to breast and OC initiation and progression independent of the loss of wtBRCA1. Previously, we have found that normal human ovarian surface epithelial (HOSE) cells expressing the 185delAG mutant, BRAT (

BRCA1 185delAG Amino Terminal truncated protein), exhibit enhanced chemosensitivity and up-regulation of the OC-associated serpin, maspin. In the current study, I identify an additional target of the BRAT mutation, matrix metalloprotease 1 (MMP1), a key player in invasion and metastasis. BRAT-expressing HOSE cells exhibit increased MMP1 messenger RNA (mRNA) by real time PCR and protein by Western blotting. Pro-MMP1 levels are also higher in conditioned media of BRAT-expressing cells and HOSE cell lines derived from BRAT mutation carriers. c-Jun is critical for BRAT-mediated MMP1 up-regulation, as siRNA knockdown diminishes MMP1 levels. Luciferase reporter constructs reveal that activator Protein 1 (AP1) sites throughout the distal end of the promoter contribute to BRAT-mediated MMP1

expression, and basal activity is mediated in part by an AP1 site at (-72). Reporters containing a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associated with OC risk and progression yield increased activity that is further enhanced in BRAT cells. Interestingly, BRAT-mediated changes in chemosensitivity and gene regulation are not recapitulated in a normal breast epithelial or breast cancer cell model. This suggests tissue-specific mutant BRCA1 functions may contribute to breast and ovarian tissue specificity of BRCA1 mutation-associated cancer risk and also to differential breast and ovarian cancer risk and penetrance associated with specific mutations. Early molecular and cellular changes such as MMP1 up-regulation in the ovarian surface epithelium of BRCA1 mutation carriers may promote OC initiation and progression and represent a step forward on the continuum of cellular malignancy. Further investigation is warranted, as elucidating these early changes will aid in identification of potential screening and treatment strategies.