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Publication Date



UM campus only

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology (Medicine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Charles Luetje

Second Committee Member

David Helfman

Third Committee Member

Kerry Burnstein


Recently reported data demonstrate that Vav3, a Rho Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factor (Rho GEF) is overexpressed in breast tumors, coexpressed with ER, necessary for proliferation in breast cancer cells, and predictive of response to neoadjuvant endocrine therapies in patients with ER+ tumors. Such data beg the question as to what roles Vav3 plays in modulation of steroid receptor activity in breast cancer and in resistance to current hormonal therapies. Using reporter assays, I provide novel evidence that Vav3 potentiates Estrogen Receptor activity and represses Androgen Receptor activity in breast cancer cells. Vav3 potentiates ligand-dependent estrogen receptor activity in the MCF-7. A truncated, constitutively active form of Vav3, caVav3 potentiates ligand dependent ER activity in both MCF-7 and T47D. Vav3 activates Rho GTPases through its GEF domain. ER potentiation by caVav3 is dependent upon GEF activity. A caVav3 mutant with defective GEF function represses basal and ligand-mediated ER activity in T47D. Although other studies have shown that Vav3 could activate various Rho GTPases, only constitutively active Rac1 mutants potentiated ER activity in both cell lines. Contrastingly, reporter assays were used to show that caVav3 inhibits ligand-mediated AR activity in the AR+ T47D cell line by both R1881 and DHT stimulation. caVav3-mediated repression of AR activity is GEF-dependent, as caVav3 GEF mutants potentiate AR activity. Constitutively active forms of Rho GTPases were found to repress AR activity to different extents, but R1881-mediated AR activity was only significantly repressed by caCdc42. My studies of the effect of androgens on AR protein by western blot show that androgens downregulate AR protein in the highly Vav3 positive T47D cell line. Previous studies have demonstrated that androgens stabilize AR protein in MCF-7, and I now provide evidence that overexpression of Vav3 or caVav3 reverses hormone-mediated AR protein stabilization in MCF-7. These data are especially relevant given recently published data that decreased AR protein levels contributed to failure of response to MPA in patients with metastatic breast cancer. Further breast cancer studies may prove Vav3 to be a potential drug target in hormone dependent, hormone independent, and metastatic disease.


ER; AR; Estrogen Receptor; Androgen Receptor; Protein Stabilization; R1881; Tamoxifen; DHT; Antiestrogen Resistance; Potentiation; Repression; Rac 1; Cdc 42; Rho A