Cancer is known for its unregulated and mutagenic characteristics. The topic of targeting cancer by inhibiting the metabolic pathways it uses to thrive has been a focus of modern cancer research. Specifically, in lung cancer, the transformation from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) to small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a focus. This transformation often comes with a grimmer prognosis and reduced survival rate. This is primarily due to SCLC being resistant to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors. This frontline treatment for EGFR mutant NSCLC has shown to be quite effective until transformation to SCLC occurs. To further study the metabolic factors responsible for this transformation, a metabolic screening was conducted on SCLC transformed lung tissues and tumor adjacent normal lung tissues. This analysis revealed that the amino acid L-arginine and intermediates in its biosynthetic pathway were severely dysregulated. While L-arginine supplementation has shown to inhibit the growth of breast and colorectal cancers, there is little literature about its effects on lung cancer. Using cell viability and gene expression screening tools, we have identified arginine metabolizing genes ARG2, GATM, and OAT as being upregulated in NSCLC treated with high concentrations of an EGFR inhibitor. These high treatments also correlate with increased expression of neuronal differentiation factor 1 (NEUROD1), which has been shown to drive tumorigenesis, metastasis, and SCLC transformation. These findings show a role for altering arginine metabolism to accomplish drug resistance through SCLC transformation. These findings will hopefully pave the way for later clinical use of arginine converting enzymes and NEUROD1 expression levels as predictive markers of early drug resistance and SCLC transformation.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Zhang, Wen Cai


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Medicine


Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences

Degree Program

Biomedical Sciences



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Release Date


Included in

Oncology Commons