Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation





First Advisor

Dr. Natasha Kyprianou


Cofilin’s activity to nucleate actin filament assembly, is regulated by phosphorylation at a single site on the amino terminus, Serine 3. Phosphorylation at this site abolishes the ability of ADF/cofilin to bind to F-actin and inhibits its severing function. This work characterizes the ability of dephosphorylated cofilin (mutation at Serine 3 site) to navigate prostate cancer actin cytoskeleton and metastatic properties in response to TGF-β. TGF-β increased Lim Domain Kinase 2 (LIMK-2) activity leading to cofilin phosphorylation and decrease actin filament severing in wild type cofilin (WTCFL) PC-3 cells. Constitutively active cofilin in Serine 3 cofilin mutants (S3ACFL) promoted prostate cancer cell filopodia formation, actin severing and directed TGF-β mediated migration and invasion. Co-culture of prostate cancer cells with prostate cancer associated fibroblasts induced cell invasion in WTCFL and S3ACFL cells. Active cofilin further enhanced the invasive response, even in the presence of a TGF-β-neutralizing antibody, implicating the contribution of the microenvironment. Active cofilin led to a significant increase in prostate cancer cell metastatic potential in vivo and cofilin correlated with metastasis in a mouse model of prostate tumor progression. In human prostate cancer, cofilin expression was significantly higher in metastasis compared to the primary tumors. Cofilin thus emerges as a regulator of the actin cytoskeleton remodeling capable of coordinating the cellular responses to TGF- β towards prostate cancer metastasis. Understanding how cancer cells interprete TGF-β signals from the microenvironment, is critical for defining the mechanism via which TGF- β function is switched from a growth suppressor to a metastasis promoter. Here we show that in prostate cancer, TGF-β action is directed by active cofilin enabling actin cytoskeleton changes and metastatic behavior. The significant association of cofilin with prostate cancer metastatic progression supports its predictive and targeting value in metastasis.