Molecular Bone Biology Unit

Lab head: Prof. Hong Zhou
Location: Molecular Bone Biology Unit, Bone Research Program, ANZAC Research Institute (C22, Concord Hospital)

The Role of Glucocorticoid Receptor in Breast Cancer and its Bone Metastasis

Primary supervisor: Hong Zhou

Breast cancer is the most common malignancies affecting women and has a high propensity to metastasise to the skeleton at the advanced stages. It is known that glucocorticoids (GC) can induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in different cell types and are already used as neo-adjuvant and adjuvant therapies to treat various cancers with remarkable effects to induce apoptosis in leukemia and lymphoma. However, GCs unexpectedly promote cancer cell survival and induce chemo-resistance in breast cancer. Yet the specific mechanisms are unknown. 


The GC effect is mediated by the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), a ligand-dependent transcription factor that translocates into the nucleus and alters gene transcriptions in response to apoptosis and survival. In this project the role of GR in breast cancer growth and bone metastasis will be investigated using GR knock-down breast cancer cell lines by RNA interference (RNAi) technology.

The Honours projects aim to 1) identify how glucocorticoids, via GR, influence the breast cancer cell proliferation and apoptosis in vitro, 2) role of GR in breast cancer growth in primary site (mammary pad) in vivo and 3) determine the role of GR in breast cancer in bone metastasis in vivo. The Honours students will get experience in techniques of cell and molecular biology (RNAi, cell culture, qRT-PCR, histology/immunohistochemistry), biochemistry (serum marker assays) and mouse models.

Discipline: Pathology
Co-supervisors: Yu Zheng
Keywords: Cancer, Metastasis, Bone health