Honors College Theses




Biology (B.S.B.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Vinoth Sittaramane


Metastasis- the spread of cancer cells from the primary tumor to the surrounding tissues- is responsible for 90% of cancer deaths. Integrin alpha-6 (ITGA6) is a specific transmembrane cell surface protein that functions in cell surface adhesion and signaling. ITGA6 is upregulated in many types of cancers and promotes the migration and invasion of cancer cells to surrounding tissues. It is my objective to determine the mechanism through which ITGA6 facilitates the migration of cancer cells through the extracellular matrix (ECM). These experiments helped to establish the role of ITGA6 in tumor development and provide focus for possible chemotherapeutic treatment. Using an in-vitro cell migration assay I observed the varying rates of invasion through the ECM by PC3 cancer cells transfected to express various amounts of ITGA6. High-resolution imaging techniques were used in coordination with cell counting software to examine the number of PC3 cells that had migrated across the laminin-coated membrane. I found that PC3 cells with ITGA6 knockdown had lower rates of cell migration compared to untreated PC3 cells while PC3 cells with ITGA6 overexpression had the greatest rate of invasion through the ECM. Based on my findings, future studies can aim to identify possible alternative pathways of ITGA6 function and to develop targeted cancer therapeutic strategies.

Thesis Summary

An experimental approach to defining a mechanism of cancer metastasis in prostate cancer. Using PC3 cells and a laminin migration assay, the role of Integrin Alpha-6 in the increased invasion of cancer cells was investigated.