Project 1

Inherited and Somatic Alterations of the TGF-ß Ligand and Receptor Complex in Cervical Cancer

PI:     Chris Weghorst 

Co-Investigators:     David Cohn
Gerard Nuovo
Tom Knobloch
Mack Ruffin

Project Manager: Cece DeGraffinreid

Statistician:     Bo Lu

Invasive cervical cancer (ICC) is the most common cause of cancer death worldwide, and while decreasing in prevalence in the majority of the developed world, this disease continues to disproportionately affect certain populations in the United States (US).  In particular, the rate of ICC incidence and mortality in Appalachian women is the highest in the US.  While many risk factors are known to influence ICC development, little is known about the role of hereditary and genetic susceptibility factors.  The transforming growth factor beta (TGF-ß) is a universal critical regulator of various cellular functions, including cell proliferation, via its binding with a receptor’s complex on the cell surface. Cancer cells frequently avoid the inhibitory influence of TGF-ß on cell proliferation via somatic inactivation of key components of the signaling pathway, including the ligand and receptor complex.  Additionally, germline polymorphisms in the ligand and receptors have been associated with cancer development and increased cancer susceptibility. In this proposal, we hypothesize that the increased incidence of ICC observed in Appalachian women over their non-Appalachian counterparts is due in part to inherited and somatic alteration of the TGF-ß ligand and receptor complex that can be further potentiated in association with various environmental, behavioral, and socioeconomic risk factors.  Specifically, we will determine prevalence of inherited polymorphic and somatically acquired variants of key TGF-ß pathway components in a large cohort of Appalachian ICC patients compared to healthy Appalachian women.  Furthermore, we will determine whether these genetic alterations contribute individually or in combination with other known environmental (Human Papillomavirus, Epstein-Barr Virus), behavioral (smoking), and social (stress, social networks) risk factors, to the increased susceptibility of Appalachian women to ICC development. 


The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) 300 W. 10th Ave. Columbus, OH 43210 Phone: 1-800-293-5066 | Email: