GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Cell Biology



First Thesis Advisor

Gary S. Stein, Ph.D.


Core Binding Factor alpha Subunits, Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit, Core Binding Factor Alpha 3 Subunit, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplasms


Runt related transcription factors (Runx) play an important role in mammalian development by regulating the expression of key genes involved in cell proliferation, differentiation and growth. The work described in this thesis details the mechanisms by which the activity of two members of this family are regulated in human cells. Chapter One provides a brief introduction of Runx transcription factors.

Chapter Two describes the regulation of Runx2 protein by the PI3 kinase/Akt pathway in human breast cancer cells. The PI3 kinase/Akt pathway is one of the major signal transduction pathways through which growth factors influence cell proliferation and survival. It is also one of the most frequently dysregulated pathways in human cancers. We identify Runx2 protein, a key regulator of breast cancer invasion as a novel substrate of Akt kinase and map residues of Runx2 that are phosphorylated by Akt in breast cancer cells. Our results show that phosphorylation by Akt increases the binding of Runx2 protein to its target gene promoters and we identify the phosphorylation events that enhance DNA binding of Runx2. Our work establishes Runx2 protein as a critical effecter downstream of Akt that regulates breast cancer invasion.

In Chapter Three we describe the subnuclear localization of the tumor suppressor protein Runx3 during interphase and mitosis. We find that similar to other Runx family members, Runx3 protein resides in nuclear matrix associated foci during interphase. We delineate a subnuclear targeting signal that directs Runx3 to these nuclear matrix associated foci. Our work establishes that this association of Runx3 protein with the nuclear matrix plays a vital role in regulating its transcriptional activity.

Chromatin immunoprecipitation results show that Runx3 occupies rRNA promoters during interphase. We also find that Runx3 remains associated with chromosomes during mitosis and localizes with nucleolar organizing regions (NORs), reflecting an interaction with epigenetic potential.

This thesis provides novel insights into various mechanisms by which cells regulate the activity of Runx proteins.



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