Erica Tross

Erica Tross

Cell & Developmental Biology

PI: Ian Macara, Ph.D.

Gene Expression Profiles of Mammary Stem Cells

In the Macara Lab, we are conducting a variety of projects. The first consists of determining the mechanisms that determine the polarization of mammalian epithelial cells in mammary gland morphogenesis and in breast cancer initiation and metastasis. A second project is focused on studying the role of septins in cell polarity and DNA repair and elucidating their potential role in tumorigenesis .

The third project is built on the basis that mammary stem cells may be the driving force in breast cancer initiation. I am working on isolating two recently identified stem cell populations, s-SHIP-GFP+ cells  and ProCR+ cells . I will FACS sort the mammary stem cells from primary mammary epithelial cells and perform RNA seq to analyze gene expression profiles. Important questions about these cell populations include, what is their relationship to one another and to non-stem myoepithelial cell populations and what are the gene networks and signatures that promote ‘stemness’ and maintain cell multipotency? The ability to isolate mammary stem cell populations using specific markers allows the opportunity to study and determine each of the individual population's specific gene signatures. This could potentially allow us to resolve gene(s) expressed specifically in all mammary stem cells and determine the stem cell hierarchy. This will also help to begin studies on how and what types of perturbations of these stem cells result in the onset of breast cancer.