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A Novel Technique to Follow Consequences of Exogenous Factors, Including Therapeutic Drugs, on Living Human Breast Epithelial Cells

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Annual rept. 1 Jul 1998-30 Jun 1999

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My lab is developing techniques for imaging living human breast epithelial cells in 3-D cultures to evaluate their responses to the application of exogenous factors. Unlike most model systems, which utilize cells growing in monolayers on plastic substrates, our system more closely mimics the growth of cells in the body. Recent data from other laboratories demonstrate that cells growing in monolayers do not necessarily respond to exogenous substances in the same manner as do cells growing in three- dimensional cultures. There is a strong need, therefore, for techniques such as ours that enable examination of living cells growing in 3-D. We can now track fluorescently labeled proteins in living cells and, thereby, evaluate normal, premalignant and tumor cells. For example, we can visualize Beta-catenin-GFP in live normal and tumor breast cells. Using such approaches, we can detect rapid responses to the effects of exogenous factors, including therapeutic agents. Other preliminary studies of proteins in the Wnt signaling pathway known to be involved in a number of cancers in fixed human mammary epithelial cells show that one of the key proteins is absent in the tumor cells, Further studies using our technique are required to determine the significance of this aberration.

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  • Medicine and Medical Research

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