The Cowin Laboratory focuses on the role of beta-catenin during breast development and in breast cancer. The lab has developed a mouse expressing activated betacatenin in the mammary gland and showed that this induces precocious alveolar development and breast cancer. The work indicates that beta-catenin acts downstream of hormones to stimulate the proliferation of breast stem cells and the survival of their immediate progenitors. Cell-type specific activation of betacatenin regulates ductal/alveolar cell fate, expansion and the induction of distinct types of breast tumors. Dr. Cowin is investigating the relationship between specific stem/progenitor cell expansion and tumor phenotype, and characterizing novel breast stem cell biomarkers.
Zhang X, Podsypanina K, Huang S, Mohsin SK, Chamness GC, Hatsell S, Cowin P, Schiff R, Li Y. Estrogen receptor positivity in mammary tumors of Wnt-1 transgenic mice is influenced by collaborating oncogenic mutations. Oncogene. 2005 Jun 16;24(26):4220-31.
Liu B.Y., Kim Y.C., Leatherberry V., Cowin, P., Alexander, C.M. Mammary gland development requires syndecan-1 to create a beta-catenin/TCF-responsive mammary epithelial subpopulation. Oncogene. 2003 Dec 18;22(58):9243-53.