First Advisor

Nicholas Pullen

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Document Type


Date Created



The mortality associated with cancer is most commonly a result of it spreading to other tissues and organs in a process known as metastasis. For carcinomas to do this they must first break through the basement membrane containing them to interact with the stroma. This is known as an epithelial-mesenchymal transition and occurs when carcinomas suppress their original epithelial qualities in order to adopt more mesenchymal ones. This involves cancers dedifferentiating from their original cell type to lose the specialized features that distinguished them and where they came from. As cancers become more invasive, this dedifferentiation becomes more pronounced. Recent breakthroughs in the field of epigenetics have uncovered a way to reverse dedifferentiation through transgenic expression of a family of transcription factors known as Yamanaka Factors. For the purposes of cancer, we hypothesized that this treatment would also reduce metastatic potential. To determine if this was the case, said treatment was conducted on a metastatic breast cancer cell line, 4T1 cells, using transfection. Once the Yamanaka factors were expressed in the 4T1 cells, measurement of metastatic potential was conducted via flow cytometry of stem cell associated proteins (CD49f and P-Cadherin) as well as a wound healing assay. While there was a significant decrease in CD49f and P-Cadherin levels post transfection, the rate of closure for the wound healing assay was nearly identical. This suggests that while expression of Yamanaka factors does alter the differentiation state of cancer cells, it does not alter proliferative and migratory capabilities associated with their malignancy.

Abstract Format



Cancer Biology | Other Cell and Developmental Biology


28 pages

Rights Statement

Copyright is held by the author.