Oncogene HER2/neu in Breast Cancer

Denise Smith (Biology)

The Role of the Oncogene HER2/neu in breast cancer and potential therapeutic screening

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States with an estimated 1,665,540 newly diagnosed cases in 2014 and 585,720 deaths.  Breast cancer is the second most prevalent cancer in women and one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime.  Although breast cancer has seen significant success in prevention and therapeutics, approximately 40,000 women die each year.   A common marker for poor prognosis involves over-expression of the oncogene HER2/neu which causes an over-expression of the transcription factor NF-kB.  Active NF-B is composed of two proteins forming a dimer.  There are five possible proteins to make up this dimer.  Understanding the role that these proteins play in breast cancer becomes important not only in unraveling cell signaling but knowing which proteins are involved in maintaining the cancer phenotype.  By individually blocking each protein, their role can be determined using simple molecular biology techniques.  This research will also study the role of HER2/neu in mouse breast cancer cells by transiently blocking protein expression of HER2/neu.