Investigating the role of N-WASP in the development of colorectal cancer

Morris, Hayley Theresa (2016) Investigating the role of N-WASP in the development of colorectal cancer. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cancer in Europe, with the second highest mortality rate. Although prognosis is improving, survival rates remain poor for those presenting with the most advanced stages of the disease. There is therefore a need for improved early diagnosis and thus a greater understanding of the early stages of the development of colorectal tumours is desirable. Additionally, as most deaths in colorectal cancer are due to advanced metastatic disease, it is of great interest to explore any potential mechanisms by which metastatic disease can be inhibited.

N-WASP is a ubiquitously expressed protein with multiple intracellular roles including actin regulation and maintaining stability of epithelial cell-cell junctions. Through its role as an actin regulator, it has been implicated in the processes of invasion and metastasis of multiple cancer types. Its role in the development and progression of colorectal cancer however has not been fully explored.

This thesis will present a series of in vitro and in vivo studies that were carried out with the aim of answering the following questions:
• Does N-Wasp have a role in normal intestinal homeostasis?
• Does N-Wasp knockout affect the development of tumours in a mouse model of intestinal tumourigenesis?
• Does N-Wasp knockout affect the invasive properties of intestinal cancer in vitro?
• Does N-WASP correlate with prognosis or other indicators in human colorectal cancer TMAs?

Findings from the in vivo experiments, using an inducible, gut-specific knockout model, have uncovered potential roles for N-Wasp in regulating differentiation and migration of intestinal epithelial cells. Although it had no effect in short term models of intestinal hyperproliferation, N-Wasp knockout increased tumour burden and decreased survival in an established in vivo model of intestinal tumourigenesis, in which there is heterozygous loss of Apc (Apcfl/+). No effect was seen on tumour development or survival when additional N-WASP knockout was introduced into a more rapid model, with heterozygous loss of Apc and mutation of Kras (Apcfl/+ KrasG12D/+).
N-WASP expression in human colorectal cancer was assessed using immunohistochemical staining of two tissue microarrays. Low levels of N-WASP expression were found to be associated with presence of MMR deficiency. There was no statistically significant difference in overall or cancer specific survival based on N-WASP expression.

Collectively, the data presented here suggest a previously unreported role for N-WASP in regulation of intestinal epithelial differentiation and indicate that it may act as a tumour suppressor against development of benign precursor lesions of colorectal cancer. Further research is warranted to delineate the mechanisms underlying these processes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: N-WASP, cancer, colorectal, colon, intestine, tumourigenesis.
Subjects: R Medicine > RB Pathology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Cancer Sciences > Beatson Institute of Cancer Research
Funder's Name: Medical Research Council (MRC)
Supervisor's Name: Machesky, Professor Laura M.
Date of Award: 2016
Embargo Date: 8 January 2017
Depositing User: Dr Hayley Morris
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7174
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2016 15:52
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2022 15:20
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.7174
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