Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

John Jellies

Second Advisor

Carrie Graveel


The role of the tumor microenvironment in cancer progression and metastasis was previously ignored, but new research is beginning to show that gene expression in microenvironment is a key player in predicting clinical outcomes. Our lab previously created a rat model with neurofibromin (NF1) deficiency that develops penetrant and highly aggressive breast cancer, and because of the early tumor onset, we wanted to explore the role of the microenvironment in this model. In this work, we will demonstrate that NF1 deficiency alters mammary gland development, the mammary microenvironment, and the actin cytoskeleton of the mammary epithelial tissues. From this preliminary data, we also postulate that collagen from neurofibromin deficient rats may be promoting cell migration and motility, correlating with an invasive phenotype in vivo.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted