Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Anatomy and Cell Biology


Dr. Alison Allan


Previous work in our lab indicates “stem-like” breast cancer cells can be identified by an ALDHhlCD44+phenotype and that these cells are significantly more metastatic than ALDHlowCD44‘cells. The purpose of this project was to investigate the functional role of overexpressed human ALDH1A1 in breast cancer behaviour. ALDH1A1 was stably overexpressed in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells and these cells were assessed using functional in vitro assays of metastasis (proliferation, adhesion, migration, colony formation). Despite overexpression of ALDH1A1, no significant differences were observed in malignant cell behaviour between empty vector control and MCF- 7/ALDH1A1 cells. However, it was observed that MCF-7/ALDH1A1 cells with the highest ALDH activity demonstrate a significantly higher proportion of cells in the S/G2/M phases of the cell cycle relative to the remainder of the population (p<0.05). The results suggest that ALDH1A1 may not be the only ALDH isoform that plays a role in breast cancer metastasis.



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