Project description:R-spondin1 (Rspo1) is a member of a secreted protein family which has pleiotropic functions in development and stem cell growth. Rspo1 knock-out mice are sex-reversed, but some remain sub-fertile, so they fail to nurse their pups. A lack of Rspo1 expression in the mammary gland results in an absence of duct side-branching development and defective alveolar formation. The aim of this study was to characterize the phenotypic and molecular alterations of mammary gland due to Rspo1 knock-out. Using the transcriptional profiling of mammary tissues, we identified misregulated genes in the mammary gland of Rspo1 knock-out mice during pregnancy. A stronger expression of mesenchymal markers was observed, without modifications to the structure of mammary epithelial tissue. Mammary epithelial cell immunohistochemical analysis revealed a persistence of virgin markers, which signify a delay in cell differentiation. Moreover, serial transplantation experiments showed that Rspo1 is associated with a regenerative potential of mammary epithelial cell control. Our finding also highlights the negatively regulated expression of Rspo1's partners, Lgr4 and RNF43, in the mammary gland during pregnancy. Moreover, we offer evidence that Tgf-? signalling is modified in the absence of Rspo1. Taken together, our results show an abrupt halt or delay to mammary development during pregnancy due to the loss of a further differentiated function.
Project description:p21-activated kinases (PAKs) are serine/threonine kinases functioning as downstream effectors of the small GTPases Rac1 and Cdc42. Members of the PAK family are overexpressed in human breast cancer, but their role in mammary gland development is not fully explored. Here we examined the functional role of PAK4 in mammary gland development by creating a mouse model of MMTV-Cre driven conditional PAK4 gene depletion in the mammary gland. The PAK4 conditional knock-out mice were born healthy, with no observed developmental deficits. Mammary gland whole-mounts revealed no defects in ductal formation or elongation of the mammary tree through the fat pad. PAK4 gene depletion also did not alter proliferation and invasion of the mammary epithelium in young virgin mice. Moreover, adult mice gave birth to healthy pups with normal body weight upon weaning. This implies that MMTV-Cre induced gene depletion of PAK4 in mice does not impair normal mammary gland development and thereby provides an in vivo model that can be explored for examination of the potential function of PAK4 in breast cancer.
Project description:Parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) can be secreted from cells and interact with its receptor, the Type 1 PTH/PTHrP Receptor (PTHR1) in an autocrine, paracrine or endocrine fashion. PTHrP can also remain inside cells and be transported into the nucleus, where its functions are unclear, although recent experiments suggest that it may broadly regulate cell survival and senescence. Disruption of either the PTHrP or PTHR1 gene results in many abnormalities including a failure of embryonic mammary gland development in mice and in humans. In order to examine the potential functions of nuclear PTHrP in the breast, we examined mammary gland development in PTHrP (1-84) knock-in mice, which express a mutant form of PTHrP that lacks the C-terminus and nuclear localization signals and which can be secreted but cannot enter the nucleus. Interestingly, we found that PTHrP (1-84) knock-in mice had defects in mammary mesenchyme differentiation and mammary duct outgrowth that were nearly identical to those previously described in PTHrP-/- and PTHR1-/- mice. However, the mammary buds in PTHrP (1-84) knock-in mice had severe reductions in mutant PTHrP mRNA levels, suggesting that the developmental defects were due to insufficient production of PTHrP by mammary epithelial cells and not loss of PTHrP nuclear function. Examination of the effects of nuclear PTHrP in the mammary gland in vivo will require the development of alternative animal models.
Project description:The post-lactational regression of mammary gland is a complex multi-step process designed to conserve the biological function of the gland for next pregnancy. This developmental stage is a biological intrigue with great relevance to breast cancer research, and thus has been the subject of intensive scrutiny. Multipronged studies (microarray, proteomics profiling, animal knock-out models) have provided a repertoire of genes critical to involution. However, the caveat of these approaches remains in their failure to reveal post-translational modification(s), an emerging and critical aspect of gene regulation in developmental processes and mammary gland remodeling. The massive surge in the lysosomal enzymes concurrent with the onset of involution has been known for decades, and considered essential for "clearance" purposes. However, functional significance of these enzymes in diverse biological processes distinct from their proteolytic activity is just emerging. Studies from our laboratory had indicated specific post-translational modifications of the aspartyl endopeptidase Cathepsin D (CatD) at distinct stages mammary gland development. This study addresses the biological significance of these modifications in the involution process, and reveals that post-translational modifications drive CatD into the nucleus to cleave Histone 3. The cleavage of Histone 3 has been associated with cellular differentiation and could be critical instigator of involution process. From functional perspective, deregulated expression and increased secretion of CatD are associated with aggressive and metastatic phenotype of breast cancer. Thus unraveling CatD's physiological functions in mammary gland development will bridge the present gap in understanding its pro-tumorigenic/metastatic functions, and assist in the generation of tailored therapeutic approaches.
Project description:To investigate the impact of combined Rb and p53 loss in mammary tumorigenesis, we used transgenic and viral approaches to delete Rb and p53 floxed alleles specifically in the mouse mammary epithelium. Although MMTV-Cre (NLST) targets stem/bi-potent progenitors in the mammary gland, a subset of MMTV-Cre:Rbf/f;p53f/f mice developed non-mammary tumors. Thus, freshly isolated primary mammary epithelial cells from these animals were transplanted into the mammary fat pads of immunodeficient mice and monitored for tumor formation. In addition, primary MECs were isolated from Cre-negative Rbf/f;p53f/f mice, infected with Ad-Cre followed by orthotopic transplantation. In all these cases, resulting tumors shared similar spindle-shape histology, expressed high levels of vimentin, a mesenchymal marker, but not E-cadherin, a luminal marker, and were classified as adeno-sacrcomatoid/spindle-cell/mesenchymal-like breast cancer. We used microarrays to detect differentially expressed genes in the Rb/p53 double-knock-out vs p53 single deletion or normal mammary tissue. Total RNA was extracted from tumors developed by double Trizol method and hybridized on Affymetrix microarrays
Project description:Expression profiling of pancreatic islets in Tcf1 knock out mice. Experiment Overall Design: two biological replicates per condition; two conditions are WT and Tcf1 KO mice; platforms are Affy MG-U74A and B array
Project description:Correlative data suggest that thyroid hormone receptor-? (TR?) mutations could increase the risk of mammary tumor development, but unequivocal evidence is still lacking. To explore the role of TR? mutants in vivo in breast tumor development and progression, we took advantage of a knock-in mouse model harboring a mutation in the Thrb gene encoding TR? (Thrb(PV) mouse). Although in adult nulliparous females, a single ThrbPV allele did not contribute to mammary gland abnormalities, the presence of two ThrbPV alleles led to mammary hyperplasia in ?36% Thrb(PV/PV) mice. The ThrbPV mutation further markedly augmented the risk of mammary hyperplasia in a mouse model with high susceptibility to mammary tumors (Pten(+/-) mouse), as demonstrated by the occurrence of mammary hyperplasia in ?60% of Thrb(PV/+)Pten(+/-) and ?77% of Thrb(PV/PV)Pten(+/-) mice versus ?33% of Thrb(+/+)Pten(+/-) mice. The Thrb(PV) mutation increased the activity of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT5) to increase cell proliferation and the expression of the STAT5 target gene encoding ?-casein in the mammary gland. We next sought to understand the molecular mechanism underlying STAT5 overactivation by TR?PV. Cell-based studies with a breast cancer cell line (T47D cells) showed that thyroid hormone (T3) repressed STAT5 signaling in TR?-expressing cells through decreasing STAT5-mediated transcription activity and target gene expression, whereas sustained STAT5 signaling was observed in TR?PV-expressing cells. Collectively, these findings show for the first time that a TR? mutation promotes the development of mammary hyperplasia via aberrant activation of STAT5, thereby conferring a fertile genetic ground for tumorigenesis.
Project description:17?-Estradiol induces the postnatal development of mammary gland and influences breast carcinogenesis by binding to the estrogen receptor ER?. ER? acts as a transcription factor but also elicits rapid signaling through a fraction of ER? expressed at the membrane. Here, we have used the C451A-ER? mouse model mutated for the palmitoylation site to understand how ER? membrane signaling affects mammary gland development. Although the overall structure of physiological mammary gland development is slightly affected, both epithelial fragments and basal cells isolated from C451A-ER? mammary glands failed to grow when engrafted into cleared wild-type fat pads, even in pregnant hosts. Similarly, basal cells purified from hormone-stimulated ovariectomized C451A-ER? mice did not produce normal outgrowths. Ex vivo, C451A-ER? basal cells displayed reduced matrix degradation capacities, suggesting altered migration properties. More importantly, C451A-ER? basal cells recovered in vivo repopulating ability when co-transplanted with wild-type luminal cells and specifically with ER?-positive luminal cells. Transcriptional profiling identified crucial paracrine luminal-to-basal signals. Altogether, our findings uncover an important role for membrane ER? expression in promoting intercellular communications that are essential for mammary gland development.
Project description:R-spondin1 (Rspo1) is a member of a secreted protein family which has pleiotropic functions in development and stem cell growth. Rspo1 knock-out mice are sex-reversed, but some remain sub-fertile, so, they are unable to nurse their pups. A lack of Rspo1 expression in mammary epithelial cells results in an absence of duct side-branching development and defective alveolar formation. In this study we propose to characterize the molecular functions involved to mammary gland phenotype due to Rspo1 knock out. By transcriptional profiling, we have identified gene misregulated in mammary gland of Rspo1 knock-out mice during pregnancy. A stronger expression of genes characterising mesenchymal tissue was observed in the absence of alterations to the structure of mammary epithelial tissue. Mammary epithelial cell characterization, by immunohistochemistry approach, revealed a persistence of virgin markers which sign a delay in their differentiation. Moreover serial transplantation experiments show that Rspo1 is associated with a regenerative potential of mammary epithelial cell control. Our data have also highlighted that in mammary gland during pregnancy the expression of Rspo1’s partners, Lgr4 and RNF43, are negatively regulated and Tgf-β signaling is modified in the absence of Rspo1. Taken together, our results show an abrupt halt in mammary development at mid-pregnancy due to loss of further differentiated function. Overall design: Mammary glands of eight pregnancy day-12 mice (four wild-type (WT) and four Rspo1-/- samples) and of eight other mice at pregnancy day-16 (four WT and four Rspo1-/- samples)
Project description:Intercellular communication is essential for glandular functions and tissue homeostasis. Gap junctions couple cells homotypically and heterotypically and co-ordinate reciprocal responses between the different cell types. Connexins (Cxs) are the main mammalian gap junction proteins, and the distribution of some Cx subtypes in the heterotypic gap junctions is not symmetrical; in the murine mammary gland, Cx26, Cx30 and Cx32 are expressed only in the luminal epithelial cells and Cx43 is expressed only in myoepithelial cells. Expression of all four Cxs peaks during late pregnancy and throughout lactation suggesting essential roles for these proteins in the functional secretory activity of the gland. Transgenic (Tg) mice over-expressing Cx26 driven by keratin 5 promoter had an unexpected mammary phenotype: the mothers were unable to feed their pups to weaning age leading to litter starvation and demise in early to mid-lactation. The mammary gland of K5-Cx26 female mice developed normally and produced normal levels of milk protein, suggesting a defect in delivery rather than milk production. Because the mammary gland of K5-Cx26 mothers contained excessive milk, we hypothesized that the defect may be in an inability to eject the milk. Using ex vivo three-dimensional mammary organoid cultures, we showed that tissues isolated from wild-type FVB females contracted upon treatment with oxytocin, whereas, organoids from Tg mice failed to do so. Unexpectedly, we found that ectopic expression of Cx26 in myoepithelial cells altered the expression of endogenous Cx43 resulting in impaired gap junction communication, demonstrated by defective dye coupling in mammary epithelial cells of Tg mice. Inhibition of gap junction communication or knock-down of Cx43 in organoids from wild-type mice impaired contraction in response to oxytocin, recapitulating the observations from the mammary glands of Tg mice. We conclude that Cx26 acts as a trans-dominant negative for Cx43 function in myoepithelial cells, highlighting the importance of cell type-specific expression of Cxs for optimal contractile function of the mammary myoepithelium.