Our research focuses on understanding the function of genes that control breast development, and how altered regulation of these genes impacts the development and progression of breast cancer. We are particularly interested in understanding the role of a family of genes called the Rho GTPases, which have been implicated in a wide range of cellular processes, including cell movement, division, and survival. Our laboratory utilizes conditional transgenic mouse models and cultured cell lines to investigate how the loss and gain of Rho gene function participates in mammary development and breast cancer, both in vivo and in vitro. In addition to traditional cell culture, we use a state-of-the-art technique in which mammary cells or clusters of mammary cells (called organoids) are isolated from the mouse mammary gland and propagated in a biological matrix as three-dimensional (3D) cultures. The 3D cultures more accurately recapitulate the in vivo environment and allow us to observe the complex molecular processes and cellular interactions of mammary development that are difficult to investigate using mice. We are currently studying two essential Rho family genes, p190-B Rho GTPase activating protein (GAP) and Cdc42.