Role of the EHF transcription factor in breast cancer

2021 Honours opportunity

Supervisors: Prof John Mariadason and Dr Ian Luk

Laboratory: Oncogenic Transcription

Subjects prerequisites:MED3LAB, MED3PRJ and/or GEN3LAB

EHF is a transcription factor that is highly expressed in the breast epithelium. We recently generated an Ehf knockout mouse and found that female mice are unable to feed their pups.

Examination of the mammary glands of Ehf KO mice revealed a pronounced defect in the development of this tissue during pregnancy. Expression of EHF is also downregulated in human breast cancers, particularly the triple negative subtype, where tumours with low EHF expression have a poorer outcome. Triple negative breast cancers (TNBC’s) comprise ~20% of all breast cancers and have limited treatment options. There is therefore an urgent need to identify the driver genes which give rise of this subtype so that new treatments can be developed.


Project outline

The goal of this Honours project is to determine the role of EHF in the growth, survival, migration and chemotherapy response in triple negative breast cancer cells. We will achieve this as follows:

  1. Determine the level of EHF mRNA and protein expression in 20 breast cancer cell lines,including 5 TNBC cell lines.
  2. Determine the effect of EHF re-expression on cell proliferation, survival, migration and response to chemotherapy in TNBC cells.
  3. Determine the effect of EHF knockdown in TNBC cells which express EHF on cell proliferation, survival, migration and response to chemotherapy.
  4. Identify the target genes of EHF in TNBC cells following EHF knockdown or overexpression.

The student undertaking this project will learn the fundamental concepts of cancer biology and use a variety of techniques including working with cell line models of breast cancer, western blotting, immunohistochemistry, transfections and assessing response to drug treatment.


How do I apply?
Please complete and return your Ranked Entry Project Selection Form (available in the 2021 projects bookletby 5pm Friday 6 November 2020 to

How do I find out more?
Discover more about La Trobe University’s School of Molecular Sciences/LIMS Honours opportunities
Contact the LTU Honours Coordinator, Dr Ivan Poon
Phone: 03 9479 6488