James Shull, PhD

Photo of James Shull, PhD

7551 Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research
1111 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI 53705

Office Phone: 608/265-5003     Lab Phone: 608/262-9821




Research Interests:

Cancer genetics, hormones, and breast cancer, estrogen action

Estrogens are inextricably implicated in the etiology of breast cancer. The primary goals of our research group are to utilize the ACI rat model of 17â-estradiol (E2)-induced mammary cancer to identify novel genetic determinants of breast cancer susceptibility and to define the molecular mechanisms through which estrogens contribute to development of breast cancer. Whereas ACI rats are highly and uniquely susceptible to E2-induced mammary cancer, the Copenhagen (COP) and Brown Norway (BN) rat strains are resistant to mammary cancer development when treated with E2. In genetic crosses between ACI and COP or BN rats, we have mapped several genetic determinants of mammary cancer susceptibility within the rat genome, designated Emca1 through Emca9. Research currently underway is focused on high resolution mapping and identification of the mammary cancer susceptibility genes that reside within these Emca loci. We hope to then determine how these genes influence mammary cancer development and to evaluate the impact of these same genes on breast cancer risk in human populations. Knowledge regarding the identities of these genes should reveal novel insight into the mechanisms through which estrogens contribute to breast cancer development.

Mammary cancers that develop in E2 treated ACI rats exhibit non-random and recurring patterns of chromosome copy number changes. A second project underway in our group is focused on defining the role of genome instability in the genesis of E2-induced mammary cancer. We also hope to define the mechanism through which E2 induces genome instability in this rat model.


  • Becker Samanas, N., Commers, T. W., Dennison, K. L., Eckert Harenda, Q., Kurz, S. G., Lachel, C. M., Leland Wavrin, K., Bowler, M., Nijman, I. J., Guryev, V., Cuppen, E., Hubner, N., Sullivan, R., Vezina, C. M., and Shull, J. D. Genetic Etiology of Renal Agenesis: Fine Mapping of Renag1 and Identification of Kit as the Candidate Functional Gene.  PLoS One, 10(2): e0118147, 2015.
  • Dennison, K. L., Samanas Becker, N., Eckert Harenda, Q., Peters Hickman, M., Seiler, N. L., Ding, L. and Shull, J. D.  Development and Characterization of Novel Rat Model of Estrogen-Induced Mammary Cancer.  Endocrine Related Cancer, 2015, in press.
  • Colletti, J. A. II, Leland-Wavrin, K. M., Kurz, S. G., Hickman, M. P., Seiler, N. L., Samanas, N. B., Eckert, Q. A., Dennison, K. L., Ding, L., Schaffer, B. S., and Shull, J. D.  Validation of Six Genetic Determinants of Susceptibility to Estrogen-Induced Mammary Cancer in the Rat and Assessment of Their Relevance to Breast Cancer Risk in Humans.  G3 (Bethesda), 4(8): 1385-1394, 2014.
  • Flister, M. J., Endres, B. T., Rudemiller, N., Sarkis, A. B., Santarriaga, S., Roy, I., Lemke, A., Geurts, A. M., Moreno, C., Ran, S., Tsaih, S.-W., De Pons, J., Carlson, D. F., Tan, W., Fahrenkrug, S. C., Lazarova, Z., Lazar, J., North, P. E., LaViolette, P. S., Dwinell, M. B., Shull, J. D., and Jacob, H. J.  CXM – A New Tool for Mapping Breast Cancer Risk in the Tumor Microenvironment.  Cancer Res., 74(22): 6419-6429, 2014.
  • Kurz, S. G., Dennison, K. L., Samanas, N. B., Hickman, M. P., Eckert, Q. A., Walker, T. L., Cupp, A. S., and Shull, J. D.  Ept7 Influences Estrogen Action in the Pituitary Gland and Body Weight of Rats.  Mamm. Genome, 25(5-6):  244-252, 2014.

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Mentor to METC Graduate Students:
Lina Ding (2014)