Interdisciplinary Training

Rachael Norris

How the regulation of connexins during the maturation of mammary tissue may protect against breast cancer"

Connexins are proteins that make up gap junctions between cells, and they play an important role in cell proliferation and differentiation.  In human breast cancer, connexins are commonly misregulated.  Childbearing and breastfeeding are known to be protective against specific types of breast cancer, but the underlying biology for this observation is not known.  We aim to further our understanding of how connexins that contribute to mammary gland differentiation induced by childbearing and breastfeeding are involved in the etiologies of breast cancers of luminal vs. myoepithelial origin.  This work could lead to new insights into mechanisms underlying breast carcinogenesis and the protective effects of childbearing and breastfeeding.