Project Title: MMP Activity in Cultured Breast Cancer Cells

Faculty Sponsor: Joe Sucic

Department: Biology



Project Description: The cause of metastasis—the process through which cells leave a tumor and colonize other areas of the body—is not well understood.  We are investigating the hypothesis that metastasis is triggered by unfavorable environmental conditions within a tumor.  These conditions are highly stressful to cells, which may then metastasize to seek a “new home” in a “better neighborhood.”  MMPs are enzymes that drive metastasis by degrading the extracellular matrix, which allows cells to leave one area of the body and colonize new tissues.  We are examining the production of MMPs on cultured breast cancer cells that we expose to unfavorable environmental conditions that might mimic those seen in a tumor.  We plan to examine if these conditions cause increased production of MMPs.

Student Tasks & Responsibilities: Student will conduct assays for MMP activity in medium samples from breast cancer cells grown under normal and stress conditions.  Student will also be involved in analyzing and interpreting results.

Minimum Student Qualifications: Student should ideally have experience with the use of adjustable micropipetters.