Date of Award

Summer 5-25-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

MS Biology




Suzanne Quartuccio Gantar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jane L. Ko, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Angela V. Klaus, Ph.D.


Meiosis, cancer, aurora kinase


Cancer is a common and deadly disease in the United States with 1,806,590 new cancer cases in 2019 and 606,520 cancer deaths projected in 2020. These deaths are primarily due to the uncontrolled cell proliferation and migratory nature of the disease. Many cancer cells express genes normally restricted to meiotic cells. For example, Aurora Kinase C (AURKC) is known to regulate chromosome segregation in meiotic cells yet it is expressed in many different types of cancer, such as breast, prostate, colorectal, liver, cervical, thyroid, and testicular cancers. As a means to study the function of AURKC, an inducible expression vector was transiently transfected into the normal, human retina pigmented epithelial (RPE) cell line lacking tumor suppressor gene TP53. To characterize the gene’s oncogenic potential, the AURKC transfected-RPE cell line was subjected to the following assays: Sulforhodamine B (SRB) Assay for cell proliferation; Scratch Assay for cell migration; and Soft Agar Assay for cell growth/survival within suspension. AURKC expression significantly increased cell migration and ability to grow in soft agar. As for the SRB cell proliferation assay, there was no significant difference over 72 hours between cells with and without expression of AURKC. Based on this series of experiments, the conclusion can be made that AURKC displays oncogenic potential through its effects on cell migration and anchorage independent growth, but more experimentation, specifically cell proliferation over longer periods of time as well as ability of cells to form tumors in nude mice, could be conducted. AURKC would be an excellent therapeutic target to be investigated in the future because it is not expressed in normal somatic cells limiting potential side effects.