Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery

First Advisor

Asok Dasmahapatra

Relational Format



In previous experiments, the steroidal saponin, dioscin, which was extracted from the roots of the wild yam (Dioscorea villosa), was observed to have potent anti-proliferative effects on the human breast cancer cell lines MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231. Dioscin was also able to activate the transcription of tumor suppressor genes GATA3 and CDH1 in these cell lines. We hypothesize that the anti-proliferative effect of dioscin on human breast cancer cells could be mediated through the epigenome. Consequently, in order to explore this hypothesis, we have analyzed the expression of DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) protein in these cells. MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with differing concentrations of dioscin, as well as a 1μM concentration of the known DNMT1 inhibitor, 5-azacytidine. Protein lysate was collected from these cells and was then subjected to Western blot analysis. Both dioscin and 5-azacytidine decreased protein expression of the DNMT isoform with a molecular weight of 145 kDa. It may be concluded that dioscin has potential DNMT1 inhibiting ability, but whether or not this ability directly contributes to dioscin's anti-proliferative effects and the activation of the tumor suppressor genes GATA3 and CDH1 remains to be seen.

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