Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological Sciences (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Biological Sciences

Advisor 1

Paul Goetsch

Committee Member 1

Xiaohu Tang

Committee Member 2

Rupali Datta


Metastasis is the movement of cancerous cells to new parts of the body, often through the blood or lymph systems. Metastasis is classified as stage IV cancer, a prognosis that is significantly more difficult to effectively treat compared to earlier cancer stages. We are interested in assessing whether expression of Cancer/testis (CT) genes, a class of genes that are predominantly expressed in germ cells while also being abnormally expressed in a large percentage of cancers, is associated with cancer metastasis. Germ cells make up an organism’s reproductive system, such as the testis and ovaries, and exhibit cellular immortality and, in the case of testis, self-proliferative behavior in the form of spermatogenesis. Cancer cells adopt similar germ and self-proliferative behaviors, making CT gene analysis useful to isolate the genes and pathways involved in tumorigenesis. By assessing for differential expression between testis germline, normal tissue, and cancerous tissue, we identified 50 CT genes whose expression increases in stage IV tumors. Importantly, we determined that the majority of known CT genes were not associated with metastasis, suggesting that the most CT genes are activated in early cancer stages. However, many of the 50 CT genes that were associated with metastasis have previously been linked to metastatic and aggressive cancer behavior. Our analysis will direct more attention towards these CT genes linked with metastasis. Ideally, understanding how these CT genes are overactivated in stage IV tumors may shed light on a new avenue to develop new diagnostics or treatments aimed to improve quality of life, longevity, and prognosis for patients with stage IV cancer prognoses.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.