Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Biological Sciences


Jianying Zhang

Second Advisor

Giulio Francia


Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women. In most patients with breast cancer, it is not the primary tumor that leads to death, but rather metastatic tumors. Once breast cancer spreads to other organs in the body, the disease becomes almost incurable. It is estimated that about 20% to 50% of patients diagnosed with primary breast cancer will develop metastatic disease. Considering this, it is important to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms behind metastatic breast cancer and to identify new proteins that regulate the metastatic process. These proteins may be used as targets for possible therapeutic intervention. This study focuses on one such protein: p62/IMP2. We found that p62/IMP2, a member of IGF2 mRNA-binding protein (IMP) family, may play an important role in breast cancer metastasis.

In our study, the clinical data demonstrated that p62/IMP2 is highly associated with breast cancer. The overexpression of p62/IMP2 can be observed in breast cancer tissues, and a high frequency of its autoantibody can be detected in sera from patients with breast cancer. In our in vitro study, we found that overexpression of p62/IMP2 in breast cancer cell may promote breast cancer metastasis by increasing cell migration and reducing cell adhesion. In the study with the RT Profiler qPCR Array, we noticed that most changed genes with the overexpression of p62/IMP2 play important roles relating to cancer metastasis, such as cell migration and cell adhesion. Among the changed genes, CTGF was first identified as a novel target of p62/IMP2. In summary, p62/IMP2 may be an important regulator in breast cancer metastasis by controlling a group of adhesive molecules.

In future studies, we will focus on two points. 1) To confirm the results from in vitro study by using the in vivo experiments. In the in vivo study, we will investigate if p62/IMP2 really promotes breast cancer metastasis. 2) CTGF and p62/IMP2 expression in the breast cancer cells will be detected and the staining of CTGF and p62/IMP2 will be performed in tumor tissues. The completion of this project is expected to expand our knowledge regarding the function of p62/IMP2 in breast cancer metastasis and further improve our understanding of the molecular process in the transition from primary breast cancer to metastatic breast cancer




Received from ProQuest

File Size

90 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

Yang Li

Included in

Biology Commons