Characterizing the function of the Fps/Fes tyrosine kinase in the mammary gland
Truesdell, Peter Francis
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The fps proto-oncogene encodes a 92 kDa cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase. Previous studies have shown that Fps expression in the mammary gland changes with development, and Fps has a suppressor function in mammary tumorigenesis. The aim of my thesis was to elucidate the role of the Fps tyrosine kinase in regulating mammary gland development and function. We have shown that the expression of the Fps kinase in the mammary gland increased during pregnancy and reached its maximum during lactation. The level of Fps tyrosine phosphorylation paralleled the expression pattern. Pups reared by fps-null females gained weight more slowly than those reared by wild-type females. Epithelial cells were the primary source of Fps expression. Milk protein and fat content were not affected by the absence of Fps. Similarly, no differences in mammary gland structure were observed with whole mount or histological analysis. Fps was shown to be in a multi-protein complex with E-cadherin, β-catenin and p120-catenin. A strong co-localization signal was observed for Fps and E-cadherin. Immunofluorescence analysis indicated that the localization of E-cadherin and β-catenin was disorganized and less concentrated at sites of cell-cell contacts in the fps-null glands. The interactions between the different adherens junction components were altered in the fps-null tissue. Specifically, less E-cadherin and β-catenin was associated with p120-catenin in the fps-null glands. Suprisingly, no phosphotyrosine differences were detected for the adherens junction components. Conditions were established to grow primary murine epithelial cell cultures that could be used to investigate the function of Fps. Fps expression was up-regulated in these cells in response to lactogenic hormones. A lentiviral system encoding a murine p53 shRNA sequence was used to increase the growth potential of the primary cells. Continual growth of the infected and uninfected primary epithelial cell mixture resulted in the establishment of an immortalized cell line. Immunofluorescent and immunoblot analyses revealed that the cells have undergone an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. With the transduction of a myc-epitope tagged Fps into the cells, we have generated cell lines with the appropriate genetic backgrounds to study the function of the Fps kinase in the mammary gland, specifically as it relates to tumorigenesis.