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1.  NOTCH1 inhibition in vivo results in mammary tumor regression and reduced mammary tumorsphere-forming activity in vitro 
Breast Cancer Research : BCR  2012;14(5):R126.
NOTCH activation has been recently implicated in human breast cancers, associated with a poor prognosis, and tumor-initiating cells are hypothesized to mediate resistance to treatment and disease relapse. To address the role of NOTCH1 in mammary gland development, transformation, and mammary tumor-initiating cell activity, we developed a doxycycline-regulated mouse model of NOTCH1-mediated mammary transformation.
Mammary gland development was analyzed by using whole-mount analysis and by flow cytometry in nulliparous transgenic mice maintained in the presence/absence of doxycycline (or intracellular NOTCH1). Mammary tumors were examined histologically and immunophenotyped by staining with antibodies followed by flow cytometry. Tumors were transplanted into mammary fat pads under limiting dilution conditions, and tumor-initiating cell frequency was calculated. Mammary tumor cells were also plated in vitro in a tumorsphere assay in the presence/absence of doxycycline. RNA was isolated from mammary tumor cell lines cultured in the presence/absence of doxycycline and used for gene-expression profiling with Affymetrix mouse arrays. NOTCH1-regulated genes were identified and validated by using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Mammary tumor-bearing mice were treated with doxycycline to suppress NOTCH1 expression, and disease recurrence was monitored.
Similar to published studies, we show that constitutive expression of human intracellular NOTCH1 in the developing mouse mammary gland inhibits side branching and promotes luminal cell fate. These mice develop mammary adenocarcinomas that express cytokeratin (CK) 8/18. In vivo limiting-dilution analyses revealed that these mammary tumors exhibit functional heterogeneity and harbor a rare (1/2,978) mammary tumor-initiating cell population. With this dox-regulated NOTCH1 mammary tumor model, we demonstrate that NOTCH1 inhibition results in mammary tumor regression in vivo and prevents disease recurrence in four of six tumors tested. Consistent with the in vivo data, NOTCH1 inhibition reduces mammary tumorsphere activity in vitro. We also identify the embryonic stem cell transcription factor Nanog as a novel NOTCH1-regulated gene in tumorspheres and in mouse and human breast cancer cell lines.
These data indicate that NOTCH1 inhibition results in mammary tumor regression in vivo and interferes with disease recurrence. We demonstrate that NOTCH1-transformed mouse mammary tumors harbor a rare mammary tumor-initiating population and that NOTCH1 contributes to mammary tumor-initiating activity. This work raises the possibility that NOTCH therapeutics may target mammary tumor-initiating cells in certain human breast cancer subtypes.
PMCID: PMC4053103  PMID: 22992387
2.  Three dimensional multiphoton imaging of fresh and whole mount developing mouse mammary glands 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:373.
The applications of multiphoton microscopy for deep tissue imaging in basic and clinical research are ever increasing, supplementing confocal imaging of the surface layers of cells in tissue. However, imaging living tissue is made difficult by the light scattering properties of the tissue, and this is extraordinarily apparent in the mouse mammary gland which contains a stroma filled with fat cells surrounding the ductal epithelium. Whole mount mammary glands stained with Carmine Alum are easily archived for later reference and readily viewed using bright field microscopy to observe branching architecture of the ductal network. Here, we report on the advantages of multiphoton imaging of whole mount mammary glands. Chief among them is that optical sectioning of the terminal end bud (TEB) and ductal epithelium allows the appreciation of abnormalities in structure that are very difficult to ascertain using either bright field imaging of the stained gland or the conventional approach of hematoxylin and eosin staining of fixed and paraffin-embedded sections. A second advantage is the detail afforded by second harmonic generation (SHG) in which collagen fiber orientation and abundance can be observed.
GFP-mouse mammary glands were imaged live or after whole mount preparation using a Zeiss LSM510/META/NLO multiphoton microscope with the purpose of obtaining high resolution images with 3D content, and evaluating any structural alterations induced by whole mount preparation. We describe a simple means for using a commercial confocal/ multiphoton microscope equipped with a Ti-Sapphire laser to simultaneously image Carmine Alum fluorescence and collagen fiber networks by SHG with laser excitation set to 860 nm. Identical terminal end buds (TEBs) were compared before and after fixation, staining, and whole mount preparation and structure of collagen networks and TEB morphologies were determined. Flexibility in excitation and emission filters was explored using the META detector for spectral emission scanning. Backward scattered or reflected SHG (SHG-B) was detected using a conventional confocal detector with maximum aperture and forward scattered or transmitted SHG (SHG-F) detected using a non-descanned detector.
We show here that the developing mammary gland is encased in a thin but dense layer of collagen fibers. Sparse collagen layers are also interspersed between stromal layers of fat cells surrounding TEBs. At the margins, TEBs approach the outer collagen layer but do not penetrate it. Abnormal mammary glands from an HAI-1 transgenic FVB mouse model were found to contain TEBs with abnormal pockets of cells forming extra lumens and zones of continuous lateral bud formation interspersed with sparse collagen fibers.
Parameters influencing live imaging and imaging of fixed unstained and Carmine Alum stained whole mounts were evaluated. Artifacts induced by light scattering of GFP and Carmine Alum signals from epithelial cells were identified in live tissue as primarily due to fat cells and in whole mount tissue as due to dense Carmine Alum staining of epithelium. Carmine Alum autofluorescence was detected at excitation wavelengths from 750 to 950 nm with a peak of emission at 623 nm (~602-656 nm). Images of Carmine Alum fluorescence differed dramatically at emission wavelengths of 565–615 nm versus 650–710 nm. In the latter, a mostly epithelial (nuclear) visualization of Carmine Alum predominates. Autofluorescence with a peak emission of 495 nm was derived from the fixed and processed tissue itself as it was present in the unstained whole mount. Contribution of autofluorescence to the image decreases with increasing laser excitation wavelengths. SHG-B versus SHG-F signals revealed collagen fibers and could be found within single fibers, or in different fibers within the same layer. These differences presumably reflected different states of collagen fiber maturation. Loss of SHG signals from layer to layer could be ascribed to artifacts rendered by light scattering from the dense TEB structures, and unless bandpass emissions were selected, contained unfiltered non-SHG fluorescence and autofluorescent emissions. Flexibility in imaging can be increased using spectral emission imaging to optimize emission bandwidths and to separate SHG-B, GFP, and Carmine Alum signals, although conventional filters were also useful.
Collagen fibril arrangement and TEB structure is well preserved during the whole mount procedure and light scattering is reduced dramatically by extracting fat resulting in improved 3D structure, particularly for SHG signals originating from collagen. In addition to providing a bright signal, Carmine Alum stained whole mount slides can be imaged retrospectively such as performed for the HAI-1 mouse gland revealing new aspects of abnormal TEB morphology. These studies demonstrated the intimate contact, but relatively sparse abundance of collagen fibrils adjacent to normal and abnormal TEBS in the developing mammary gland and the ability to obtain these high resolution details subject to the discussed limitations. Our studies demonstrated that the TEB architecture is essentially unchanged after processing.
PMCID: PMC3750743  PMID: 23919456
3.  Experimental manipulation of radiographic density in mouse mammary gland 
Breast Cancer Research  2004;6(5):R540-R545.
Extensive mammographic density in women is associated with increased risk for breast cancer. Mouse models provide a powerful approach to the study of human diseases, but there is currently no model that is suited to the study of mammographic density.
We performed individual manipulations of the stromal, epithelial and matrix components of the mouse mammary gland and examined the alterations using in vivo and ex vivo radiology, whole mount staining and histology.
Areas of density were generated that resembled densities in mammographic images of the human breast, and the nature of the imposed changes was confirmed at the cellular level. Furthermore, two genetic models, one deficient in epithelial structure (Pten conditional tissue specific knockout) and one with hyperplastic epithelium and mammary tumors (MMTV-PyMT), were used to examine radiographic density.
Our data show the feasibility of altering and imaging mouse mammary gland radiographic density by experimental and genetic means, providing the first step toward modelling the biological processes that are responsible for mammographic density in the mouse.
PMCID: PMC549169  PMID: 15318935
breast cancer; mammographic density; mammography; mouse model; radiography
4.  Comparison of mouse mammary gland imaging techniques and applications: Reflectance confocal microscopy, GFP Imaging, and ultrasound 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:21.
Genetically engineered mouse models of mammary gland cancer enable the in vivo study of molecular mechanisms and signaling during development and cancer pathophysiology. However, traditional whole mount and histological imaging modalities are only applicable to non-viable tissue.
We evaluated three techniques that can be quickly applied to living tissue for imaging normal and cancerous mammary gland: reflectance confocal microscopy, green fluorescent protein imaging, and ultrasound imaging.
In the current study, reflectance confocal imaging offered the highest resolution and was used to optically section mammary ductal structures in the whole mammary gland. Glands remained viable in mammary gland whole organ culture when 1% acetic acid was used as a contrast agent. Our application of using green fluorescent protein expressing transgenic mice in our study allowed for whole mammary gland ductal structures imaging and enabled straightforward serial imaging of mammary gland ducts in whole organ culture to visualize the growth and differentiation process. Ultrasound imaging showed the lowest resolution. However, ultrasound was able to detect mammary preneoplastic lesions 0.2 mm in size and was used to follow cancer growth with serial imaging in living mice.
In conclusion, each technique enabled serial imaging of living mammary tissue and visualization of growth and development, quickly and with minimal tissue preparation. The use of the higher resolution reflectance confocal and green fluorescent protein imaging techniques and lower resolution ultrasound were complementary.
PMCID: PMC2266934  PMID: 18215290
5.  Xenoestrogens alter mammary gland differentiation and cell proliferation in the rat. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1995;103(7-8):708-713.
We investigated mammary gland differentiation and cell proliferation in rats after acute exposure to xenoestrogens. Pubertal female Sprague-Dawley rats (six/group) were treated for 1 week with diethylstilbestrol (DES), genistein, o,p'-DDT, Aroclor 1221, Aroclor 1254, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), or the vehicle, sesame oil. Animals were killed 18 hr after the last treatment. Analysis of mammary whole-mounts revealed that exposure to DES, genistein, and o,p'-DDT resulted in enhanced gland differentiation and increased epithelial cell proliferation as measured by proliferating cell nuclear antigen immunohistochemistry, TCDD treatment inhibited cell proliferation and gland development. Aroclor 1221 and Aroclor 1254 treatments had slight but not statistically significant effects on cell proliferation and mammary gland development. We conclude that DES, genistein, and o,p'-DDT given to pubertal rats act as morphogens; i.e., they increase cell proliferation, which promotes maturation of the undifferentiated terminal end buds to more differentiated lobular terminal ductal structures.
PMCID: PMC1522196  PMID: 7588483
6.  Keratin 6 is not essential for mammary gland development 
Breast Cancer Research  2006;8(3):R29.
Keratin 6 (K6) has previously been identified as a marker of early mammary gland development and has also been proposed to be a marker of mammary gland progenitor cells. However, the function of K6 in the mammary gland was not known, so we examined the expression pattern of the protein during both embryonic and postnatal mammary development, as well as the mammary gland phenotype of mice that were null for both K6a and K6b isoforms.
Immunostaining was performed to determine the expression pattern of K6a throughout mammary gland development, from the embryonic mammary bud to lactation. Double immunofluorescence was used to co-localize K6 with known markers of mammary gland development. Wild-type and K6ab-null mammary tissues were transplanted into the cleared fat pads of nude mice and the outgrowths were analyzed for morphology by whole-mount staining and for markers of mammary epithelium by immunostaining. Finally, progesterone receptor (PR) and bromodeoxyuridine co-localization was quantified by double immunofluorescence in wild-type and K6ab-null mammary outgrowths.
Here we report that K6 is expressed earlier than described previously, by embryonic day 16.5. K6a is the predominant isoform expressed in the mammary gland, localized in the body cells and luminal epithelial cells but not in the cap cells or myoepithelial cells. Co-localization studies showed that most K6a-positive cells express steroid receptors but do not proliferate. When both the K6a and K6b genes are deleted, mammary gland development appears normal, with similar expression of most molecular markers examined in both the pubertal gland and the mature gland. Loss of K6a and K6b, however, leads to an increase in the number of steroid-receptor-positive cells, and increased co-localization of steroid receptor expression and proliferation was observed.
Although K6a was not essential for mammary gland development, loss of both K6a and K6b resulted in an increase in PR-positive mammary epithelial cells and decreased proliferation after exposure to steroid hormones. There was also increased co-localization of PR and bromodeoxyuridine, suggesting alterations in patterning events important for normal lobuloalveolar development.
PMCID: PMC1557733  PMID: 16790075
7.  A short-term rat mammary carcinogenesis model for the prevention of hormonally responsive and non-responsive in situ carcinomas 
Preclinical models that accurately reproduce specific aspects of human disease etiology are invaluable for the initial development and evaluation of chemopreventive agents. We developed a novel, short-term prevention model, which is particularly useful for assessing a compound’s efficacy to prevent hormonally responsive and non-responsive in situ carcinomas. In this model, carcinogenesis is induced by a high titer of neu-containing, replication-defective retrovirus. The multiplicity and size of the resulting in situ carcinomas are scored in whole-mounted, aluminum carmine-stained mammary glands at 15 days post-infusion.
These in situ carcinomas represent a distinct biological time-point in the development of neu-induced mammary cancer in the rat. They are characterized by high rates of proliferation (40.0%, p<0.0001) and apoptosis (2.8%, p<0.005), compared to mammary carcinomas. The majority of in situ carcinomas regress spontaneously after 20 days post-infusion.
The in situ carcinomas at 15 days post-infusion exhibit hormonal responsiveness. The effects of the chemoprevention agents tamoxifen, celecoxib and targretin on hormonally responsive and non-responsive in situ carcinomas recapitulate those observed on mammary carcinomas at 12 and 18 weeks post-infusion for intact and ovariectomized rats respectively.
Neu-induced in situ carcinomas in the rat represent etiologically relevant intermediate time points of mammary carcinogenesis. Our prevention model represents a cost-efficient in vivo system to determine whether a compound’s preventive effects extend to hormonally non-responsive mammary lesions, for which new chemoprevention approaches are needed.
PMCID: PMC2881640  PMID: 19196722
neu-induced retroviral in situ carcinoma rat model; mammary carcinogenesis; chemoprevention; hormonal responsiveness; tamoxifen; celecoxib; targretin
8.  Association of cellular and molecular responses in the rat mammary gland to 17β-estradiol with susceptibility to mammary cancer 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:573.
We are using ACI and BN rats, which differ markedly in their susceptibility to 17β-estradiol (E2)-induced mammary cancer, to identify genetic variants and environmental factors that determine mammary cancer susceptibility. The objective of this study was to characterize the cellular and molecular responses to E2 in the mammary glands of ACI and BN rats to identify qualitative and quantitative phenotypes that associate with and/or may confer differences in susceptibility to mammary cancer.
Female ACI and BN rats were treated with E2 for 1, 3 or 12 weeks. Mammary gland morphology and histology were examined by whole mount and hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining. Cell proliferation and epithelial density were evaluated by quantitative immunohistochemistry. Apoptosis was evaluated by quantitative western blotting and flow cytometry. Mammary gland differentiation was examined by immunohistochemistry. Gene expression was evaluated by microarray, qRT-PCR and quantitative western blotting assays. Extracellular matrix (ECM) associated collagen was evaluated by Picrosirius Red staining and Second Harmonic Generation (SHG) microscopy.
The luminal epithelium of ACI rats exhibited a rapid and sustained proliferative response to E2. By contrast, the proliferative response exhibited by the mammary epithelium of BN rats was restrained and transitory. Moreover, the epithelium of BN rats appeared to undergo differentiation in response to E2, as evidenced by production of milk proteins as well as luminal ectasia and associated changes in the ECM. Marked differences in expression of genes that encode proteins with well-defined roles in mammary gland development (Pgr, Wnt4, Tnfsf11, Prlr, Stat5a, Areg, Gata3), differentiation and milk production (Lcn2, Spp1), regulation of extracellular environment (Mmp7, Mmp9), and cell-cell or cell-ECM interactions (Cd44, Cd24, Cd52) were observed.
We propose that these cellular and molecular phenotypes are heritable and may underlie, at least in part, the differences in mammary cancer susceptibility exhibited by ACI and BN rats.
PMCID: PMC3924185  PMID: 24304664
ACI rat; BN rat; Breast cancer susceptibility; Cell proliferation; Gene expression; Epithelial density
9.  Long-term in vivo expression of genes introduced by retrovirus-mediated transfer into mammary epithelial cells. 
Journal of Virology  1991;65(11):6365-6370.
Nonimmortalized mouse mammary epithelial cells expressing Escherichia coli beta-galactosidase from a murine amphotropic packaged retroviral vector were injected into the epithelium-divested mammary fat pads of syngeneic mice. Mammary glands formed from the injected mammary epithelial cells contained ductal and lobular cells, both of which expressed beta-galactosidase when examined in situ more than 12 months later. These results indicate that stable recombinant gene expression can be achieved in vivo in the mammary gland without altering the growth properties of normal mammary epithelium.
PMCID: PMC250361  PMID: 1656102
10.  RARα1 control of mammary gland ductal morphogenesis and wnt1-tumorigenesis 
Retinoic acid signaling pathways are disabled in human breast cancer suggesting a controlling role in normal mammary growth that might be lost in tumorigenesis. We tested a single receptor isotype, RARα1 (retinoic acid receptor isotype alpha, isoform 1), for its role in mouse mammary gland morphogenesis and mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV)-wingless-related MMTV integration site 1 (wnt1)-induced oncogenesis.
The role of RARα1 in mammary morphogenesis was tested in RARα1-knockout (KO) mice and in mammary tumorigenesis in bi-genic (RARα1/KO crossed with MMTV-wnt1) mice. We used whole mounts analysis, stem cells/progenitor quantification, mammary gland repopulation, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (Q-PCR), test of tumor-free survival, tumor fragments and cell transplantation.
In two genetic backgrounds (129/Bl-6 and FVB) the neo-natal RARα1/KO-mammary epithelial tree was two-fold larger and the pubertal tree had two-fold more branch points and five-fold more mature end buds, a phenotype that was predominantly epithelial cell autonomous. The stem/progenitor compartment of the RARα1/KO mammary, defined as CD24low/ALDHhigh activity was increased by a median 1.7-fold, but the mammary stem cell (MaSC)-containing compartment, (CD24low/CD29high), was larger (approximately 1.5-fold) in the wild type (wt)-glands, and the mammary repopulating ability of the wt-gland epithelium was approximately two-fold greater. In MMTV-wnt1 transgenic glands the progenitor (CD24low/ALDHhigh activity) content was 2.6-fold greater than in the wt and was further increased in the RARα1/KO-wnt1 glands. The tumor-free survival of RARα1/KO-wnt1 mice was significantly (P = 0.0002, Kaplan Meier) longer, the in vivo growth of RARα1/KO-wnt1 transplanted tumor fragments was significantly (P = 0.01) slower and RARα1/KO-wnt1 tumors cell suspension produced tumors after much longer latency.
In vitamin A-replete mice, RARα1 is required to maintain normal mammary morphogenesis, but paradoxically, also efficient tumorigenesis. While its loss increases the density of the mammary epithelial tree and the content of luminal mammary progenitors, it appears to reduce the size of the MaSC-containing compartment, the mammary repopulating activity, and to delay significantly the MMTV-wnt1-mammary tumorigenesis. Whether the delay in tumorigenesis is solely due to a reduction in wnt1 target cells or due to additional mechanisms remains to be determined. These results reveal the intricate nature of the retinoid signaling pathways in mammary development and carcinogenesis and suggest that a better understanding will be needed before retinoids can join the armament of effective anti-breast cancer therapies.
PMCID: PMC3096972  PMID: 20923554
11.  Potential Role for Peptidylarginine Deiminase 2 (PAD2) in Citrullination of Canine Mammary Epithelial Cell Histones 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11768.
Peptidylarginine Deiminases (PADs) convert arginine residues on substrate proteins to citrulline. Previous reports have documented that PAD2 expression and activity varies across the estrous cycle in the rodent uterus and pituitary gland, however, the expression and function of PAD2 in mammary tissue has not been previously reported. To gain more insight into potential reproductive roles for PAD2, in this study we evaluated PAD2 expression and localization throughout the estrous cycle in canine mammary tissue and then identified possible PAD2 enzymatic targets. Immunohistochemical and immunofluorescence analysis found PAD2 expression is low in anestrus, limited to a distinct, yet sparse, subset of epithelial cells within ductal alveoli during estrus/early diestrus, and encompasses the entire epithelium of the mammary duct in late diestrus. At the subcellular level, PAD2 is expressed in the cytoplasm, and to a lesser extent, the nucleus of these epithelial cells. Surprisingly, stimulation of canine mammary tumor cells (CMT25) shows that EGF, but not estrogen or progesterone, upregulates PAD2 transcription and translation suggesting EGF regulation of PAD2 and possibly citrullination in vivo. To identify potential PAD2 targets, anti-pan citrulline western blots were performed and results showed that citrullination activity is limited to diestrus with histones appearing to represent major enzymatic targets. Use of site-specific anti-citrullinated histone antibodies found that the N-terminus of histone H3, but not H4, appears to be the primary target of PAD activity in mammary epithelium. This observation supports the hypothesis that PAD2 may play a regulatory role in the expression of lactation related genes via histone citrullination during diestrus.
PMCID: PMC2909897  PMID: 20668670
12.  Reconstitution of Mammary Epithelial Morphogenesis by Murine Embryonic Stem Cells Undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Differentiation 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9707.
Mammary stem cells are maintained within specific microenvironments and recruited throughout lifetime to reconstitute de novo the mammary gland. Mammary stem cells have been isolated through the identification of specific cell surface markers and in vivo transplantation into cleared mammary fat pads. Accumulating evidence showed that during the reformation of mammary stem cell niches by dispersed epithelial cells in the context of the intact epithelium-free mammary stroma, non-mammary epithelial cells may be sequestered and reprogrammed to perform mammary epithelial cell functions and to adopt mammary epithelial characteristics during reconstruction of mammary epithelium in regenerating mammary tissue in vivo.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To examine whether other types of progenitor cells are able to contribute to mammary branching morphogenesis, we examined the potential of murine embryonic stem (mES) cells, undergoing hematopoietic differentiation, to support mammary reconstitution in vivo. We observed that cells from day 14 embryoid bodies (EBs) under hematopoietic differentiation condition, but not supernatants derived from these cells, when transplanted into denuded mammary fat pads, were able to contribute to both the luminal and myoepithelial lineages in branching ductal structures resembling the ductal-alveolar architecture of the mammary tree. No teratomas were observed when these cells were transplanted in vivo.
Our data provide evidence for the dominance of the tissue-specific mammary stem cell niche and its role in directing mES cells, undergoing hematopoietic differentiation, to reprogram into mammary epithelial cells and to promote mammary epithelial morphogenesis. These studies should also provide insights into regeneration of damaged mammary gland and the role of the mammary microenvironment in reprogramming cell fate.
PMCID: PMC2837751  PMID: 20300573
13.  Hormone-induced protection of mammary tumorigenesis in genetically engineered mouse models 
Breast Cancer Research  2007;9(1):R12.
The experiments reported here address the question of whether a short-term hormone treatment can prevent mammary tumorigenesis in two different genetically engineered mouse models.
Two mouse models, the p53-null mammary epithelial transplant and the c-neu mouse, were exposed to estrogen and progesterone for 2 and 3 weeks, respectively, and followed for development of mammary tumors.
In the p53-null mammary transplant model, a 2-week exposure to estrogen and progesterone during the immediate post-pubertal stage (2 to 4 weeks after transplantation) of mammary development decreased mammary tumorigenesis by 70 to 88%. At 45 weeks after transplantation, analysis of whole mounts of the mammary outgrowths demonstrated the presence of premalignant hyperplasias in both control and hormone-treated glands, indicating that the hormone treatment strongly affects the rate of premalignant progression. One possible mechanism for the decrease in mammary tumorigenesis may be an altered proliferation activity as the bromodeoxyuridine labeling index was decreased by 85% in the mammary glands of hormone-treated mice. The same short-term exposure administered to mature mice at a time of premalignant development also decreased mammary tumorigenesis by 60%. A role for stroma and/or systemic mediated changes induced by the short-term hormone (estrogen/progesterone) treatment was demonstrated by an experiment in which the p53-null mammary epithelial cells were transplanted into the cleared mammary fat pads of previously treated mice. In such mice, the tumor-producing capabilities of the mammary cells were also decreased by 60% compared with the same cells transplanted into unexposed mice. In the second set of experiments using the activated Her-2/neu transgenic mouse model, short-term estradiol or estradiol plus progesterone treatment decreased mammary tumor incidence by 67% and 63%, and tumor multiplicity by 91% and 88%, respectively. The growth rate of tumors arising in the hormone-treated activated Her-2/neu mice was significantly lower than tumors arising in non-hormone treated mice.
Because these experiments were performed in model systems that mimic many essential elements of human breast cancer, the results strengthen the rationale for translating this prevention strategy to humans at high risk for developing breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC1851398  PMID: 17257424
14.  Prenatal modulation of breast density and breast stem cells by insulin-like growth factor-1 
American Journal of Stem Cells  2012;1(3):239-252.
Biological determinants of breast density, a strong predictor of human breast cancer risk, are postulated to be influenced by prenatal exposures to mitogens. We investigated the extent to which prenatal exposures to insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) would affect body weight, breast density, and levels of breast stem/progenitor cells in the prepubescent offspring of wild type C57BL/6J and IGF-1 deficient mice. We found that administration of IGF-1 to pregnant mice resulted in significantly heavier birth and postnatal body weights of the offspring when compared to PBS controls. Morphometric analysis of whole mount carmine alum staining of the left fourth inguinal mammary gland revealed that a prenatal dose of 5 μg IGF-1 resulted in significantly longer ductal elongation in wild type mice and significantly higher breast density in both mouse strains. Furthermore, 5 μg IGF-1 also resulted in the highest number of putative CD49f+CD24+ and CD49f+CD24+CD29+ breast stem/progenitor cells in the wild type offspring when compared to PBS controls, as assessed by flow cytometric analysis of dissociated cells from the right fourth inguinal mammary gland, while significantly higher numbers of these cell populations as well as CD24+CD29+ and CD49f+EpCAM+ cells were observed in IGF-1 deficient mice. These findings provide direct evidence for a prenatal modulation of breast density in the offspring by IGF-1, possibly involving populations of breast stem/progenitor cells.
PMCID: PMC3636733  PMID: 23671811
Alveolar bud; birth weight; breast cancer risk; epithelial ducts; fetal origin of disease; flow cytometry; in utero environment; mammary gland; mouse model; terminal end bud
15.  The male mammary gland: a target for the xenoestrogen bisphenol A 
Males of some strains of mice retain their mammary epithelium even in the absence of nipples. Here, we have characterized the mammary gland in male CD-1 mice both in whole mounts and histological sections. We also examined the effects of bisphenol A (BPA), an estrogen mimic that alters development of the female mouse mammary gland. BPA was administered at a range of environmentally relevant doses (0.25 – 250 μg/kg/day) to pregnant and lactating mice and then the mammary glands of male offspring were examined at several periods in adulthood. We observed age- and dose-specific effects on mammary gland morphology, indicating that perinatal BPA exposures alter the male mammary gland in adulthood. These results may provide insight into gynecomastia, the most common male breast disease in humans, where proliferation of the mammary epithelium leads to breast enlargement.
PMCID: PMC3998714  PMID: 23348055
endocrine disruptor; apoptosis; proliferation; non-monotonic dose response; morphometric analysis; histology
16.  Methods for preparing fluorescent and neutral red-stained whole mounts of mouse mammary glands 
Whole mount preparations of mouse mammary glands are useful for evaluating overall changes in growth and morphology, and are essential for detecting and evaluating focal or regionally-localized phenotypes that would be difficult to detect or analyze using other techniques. We present three newly-developed methods for preparing whole mounts of mammary glands from genetically-engineered mice expressing fluorescent proteins, as well as using either neutral red or a variety of fluorescent dyes. Unlike traditional hematoxylin- or carmine-stained preparations, neutral red-stained, and some fluorescent preparations, can be used for several common downstream analyses.
PMCID: PMC3038127  PMID: 19936989
17.  Adipocyte Derived Paracrine Mediators of Mammary Ductal Morphogenesis Controlled by Retinoic Acid Receptors 
Developmental biology  2010;349(2):125-136.
We generated a transgenic (Tg)-mouse model expressing a dominant negative-(DN)-RARα, (RARαG303E) under adipocytes-specific promoter to explore the paracrine role of adipocyte retinoic acid receptors (RARs) in mammary morphogenesis. Transgenic adipocytes had reduced level of RARα, β and γ, which coincided with a severely underdeveloped pubertal and mature ductal tree with profoundly decreased epithelial cell proliferation. Transplantation experiments of mammary epithelium and of whole mammary glands implicated a fat-pad dependent paracrine mechanism in the stunted phenotype of the epithelial-ductal tree. Co-cultures of primary adipocytes, or in vitro differentiated adipocyte cell line, with mammary epithelium showed that when activated, adipocyte RARs contribute to generation of secreted proliferative and pro-migratory factors. Gene expression microarrays revealed a large number of genes regulated by adipocyte-RARs. Among them, pleiotrophin (PTN) was identified as the paracrine effectors of epithelial cell migration. Its expression was found to be strongly inhibited by DN-RARα, an inhibition relieved by pharmacological doses of all-trans retinoic acid (atRA) in culture and in vivo. Moreover, adipocyte-PTHR, another atRA responsive gene, was found to be an up-stream regulator of PTN. Overall, these results support the existence of a novel paracrine loop controlled by adipocyte-RAR that regulates the mammary ductal tree morphogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3021183  PMID: 20974122
RARs; adipocytes; paracrine; mammary morphogenesis; pleiotrophin
18.  Resident macrophages influence stem cell activity in the mammary gland 
Macrophages in the mammary gland are essential for morphogenesis of the ductal epithelial tree and have been implicated in promoting breast tumor metastasis. Although it is well established that macrophages influence normal mammopoiesis, the mammary cell types that these accessory cells influence have not been determined. Here we have explored a role for macrophages in regulating mammary stem cell (MaSC) activity, by assessing the ability of MaSCs to reconstitute a mammary gland in a macrophage-depleted fat pad.
Two different in vivo models were used to deplete macrophages from the mouse mammary fat pad, allowing us to examine the effect of macrophage deficiency on the mammary repopulating activity of MaSCs. Both the Csf1op/op mice and clodronate liposome-mediated ablation models entailed transplantation studies using the MaSC-enriched population.
We show that mammary repopulating ability is severely compromised when the wild-type MaSC-enriched subpopulation is transplanted into Csf1op/op fat pads. In reciprocal experiments, the MaSC-enriched subpopulation from Csf1op/op glands had reduced regenerative capacity in a wild-type environment. Utilizing an alternative strategy for selective depletion of macrophages from the mammary gland, we demonstrate that co-implantation of the MaSC-enriched subpopulation with clodronate-liposomes leads to a marked decrease in repopulating frequency and outgrowth potential.
Our data reveal a key role for mammary gland macrophages in supporting stem/progenitor cell function and suggest that MaSCs require macrophage-derived factors to be fully functional. Macrophages may therefore constitute part of the mammary stem cell niche.
PMCID: PMC2750124  PMID: 19706193
19.  Evidence for a multipotent mammary progenitor with pregnancy-specific activity 
The mouse mammary gland provides a powerful model system for studying processes involved in epithelial tissue development. Although markers that enrich for mammary stem cells and progenitors have been identified, our understanding of the mammary developmental hierarchy remains incomplete.
We used the MMTV promoter linked to the reverse tetracycline transactivator to induce H2BGFP expression in the mouse mammary gland. Mammary epithelial cells (MECs) from virgin mice were sorted by flow cytometry for expression of the mammary stem cell/progenitor markers CD24 and CD29, and H2BGFP. Sorted populations were analyzed for in vivo repopulation ability, expression of mammary lineage markers, and differential gene expression.
The reconstituting activity of CD24+/CD29+ cells in cleared fat pad transplantation assays was not distinguished in GFP+ compared to GFP- subpopulations. However, within the CD24+/CD29lo luminal progenitor-enriched population, H2BGFP+, but not H2BGFP-, MECs formed mammary structures in transplantation assays; moreover, this activity was dramatically enhanced in pregnant recipients. These outgrowths contained luminal and myoepithelial mammary lineages and produced milk, but lacked the capacity for serial transplantation. Transcriptional microarray analysis revealed that H2BGFP+/CD24+/CD29lo MECs are distinct from H2BGFP-/CD24+/CD29lo MECs and enriched for gene expression signatures with both the stem cell (CD24+/CD29+) and luminal progenitor (CD24+/CD29lo/CD61+) compartments.
We have identified a population of MECs containing pregnancy-activated multipotent progenitors that are present in the virgin mammary gland and contribute to the expansion of the mammary gland during pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3979108  PMID: 23947835
Mammary progenitors; Mammary stem cells; Pregnancy; MMTVrtTA; H2BGFP
20.  Re-evaluation of mammary stem cell biology based on in vivo transplantation 
Over nearly half a century, transplantation methods have been employed to regenerate the mammary gland in vivo. Recent highly cited reports claim to have demonstrated the regeneration of an entire functional mammary gland from a single mammary epithelial cell. Nevertheless, re-examination of the literature on the transplantation biology of mammary gland regeneration reveals that a complex, combinatorial interaction between variously differentiated mammary epithelial cells and the mammary fat pad stroma is indispensable to this process. In the present article, these issues are reviewed and discussed to provide a greater understanding of the complexity of these multiplex interactions.
PMCID: PMC2374966  PMID: 18304381
21.  Site-specific inductive and inhibitory activities of MMP-2 and MMP-3 orchestrate mammary gland branching morphogenesis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2003;162(6):1123-1133.
During puberty, mouse mammary epithelial ducts invade the stromal mammary fat pad in a wave of branching morphogenesis to form a complex ductal tree. Using pharmacologic and genetic approaches, we find that mammary gland branching morphogenesis requires transient matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity for invasion and branch point selection. MMP-2, but not MMP-9, facilitates terminal end bud invasion by inhibiting epithelial cell apoptosis at the start of puberty. Unexpectedly, MMP-2 also represses precocious lateral branching during mid-puberty. In contrast, MMP-3 induces secondary and tertiary lateral branching of ducts during mid-puberty and early pregnancy. Nevertheless, the mammary gland is able to develop lactational competence in MMP mutant mice. Thus, specific MMPs refine the mammary branching pattern by distinct mechanisms during mammary gland branching morphogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2172848  PMID: 12975354
apoptosis; matrix metalloproteinases; stromal–epithelial interaction; terminal end bud; tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases
22.  Amphiregulin mediates self-renewal in an immortal mammary epithelial cell line with stem cell characteristics 
Experimental cell research  2009;316(3):422-432.
Amphiregulin (AREG), a ligand for epidermal growth factor receptor, is required for mammary gland ductal morphogenesis and mediates estrogen actions in vivo, emerging as an essential growth factor during mammary gland growth and differentiation. The COMMA-D β-geo (CDβgeo) mouse mammary cell line displays characteristics of normal mammary progenitor cells including the capacities to regenerate a mammary gland when transplanted into the cleared fat pad of a juvenile mouse, nuclear label retention, and the capacity to form anchorage-independent mammospheres. We demonstrate that AREG is essential for formation of floating mammospheres by CDβgeo cells and that the mitogen activated protein kinase signaling pathway is involved in AREG-mediated mammosphere formation. Addition of exogenous AREG promotes mammosphere formation in cells where AREG expression is knocked down by siRNA and mammosphere formation by AREG−/− mammary epithelial cells. AREG knockdown inhibits mammosphere formation by duct-limited mammary progenitor cells but not lobule-limited mammary progenitor cells. These data demonstrate AREG mediates the function of a subset of mammary progenitor cells in vitro.
PMCID: PMC2812656  PMID: 19913532
Amphiregulin; mammary; mammosphere; progenitor cell
23.  The normal mammary microenvironment suppresses the tumorigenic phenotype of mouse mammary tumor virus-neu-transformed mammary tumor cells 
Oncogene  2010;30(6):679-689.
The microenvironment of the mammary gland has been shown to exert a deterministic control over cells from different normal organs during murine mammary gland regeneration in transplantation studies. When mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV)-neu-induced tumor cells were mixed with normal mammary epithelial cells (MECs) in a dilution series and inoculated into epithelium- free mammary fat pads, they were redirected to noncarcinogenic cell fates by interaction with untransformed MECs during regenerative growth. In the presence of nontransformed MECs (50:1), tumor cells interacted with MECs to generate functional chimeric outgrowths. When injected alone, tumor cells invariably produced tumors. Here, the normal microenvironment redirects MMTV-neu- transformed tumorigenic cells to participate in the regeneration of a normal, functional mammary gland. In addition, the redirected tumor cells show the capacity to differentiate into normal mammary cell types, including luminal, myoepithelial and secretory. The results indicate that signals emanating from a normal mammary microenvironment, comprised of stromal, epithelial and host-mediated signals, combine to suppress the cancer phenotype during glandular regeneration. Clarification of these signals offers improved therapeutic possibilities for the control of mammary cancer growth.
PMCID: PMC3494484  PMID: 20890308
erbB2/HER2; mammary; microenvironment; regeneration; suppression of tumorigenesis
24.  Murine Mammary Epithelial Stem Cells: Discovery, Function, and Current Status 
Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology  2011;3(2):10.1101/cshperspect.a004879 a004879.
An entire mammary epithelial outgrowth, capable of full secretory differentiation, may comprise the progeny of a single cellular antecedent, i.e., may be generated from a single mammary epithelial stem cell. Early studies showed that any portion of an intact murine mammary gland containing epithelium could recapitulate an entire mammary epithelial tree on transplantation into an epithelium-free mammary fat pad. More recent studies have shown that a hierarchy of mammary stem/progenitor cells exists among the mammary epithelium and that their behavior and maintenance is dependent on signals generated both locally and systemically. In this review, we have attempted to develop the scientific saga surrounding the discovery and characterization of the murine mammary stem/progenitor cell hierarchy and to suggest further approaches that will enhance our knowledge and understanding of these cells and their role in both normal development and neoplasia.
PMCID: PMC3039534  PMID: 20926515
25.  Murine Mammary Epithelial Stem Cells: Discovery, Function, and Current Status 
An entire mammary epithelial outgrowth, capable of full secretory differentiation, may comprise the progeny of a single cellular antecedent, i.e., may be generated from a single mammary epithelial stem cell. Early studies showed that any portion of an intact murine mammary gland containing epithelium could recapitulate an entire mammary epithelial tree on transplantation into an epithelium-free mammary fat pad. More recent studies have shown that a hierarchy of mammary stem/progenitor cells exists among the mammary epithelium and that their behavior and maintenance is dependent on signals generated both locally and systemically. In this review, we have attempted to develop the scientific saga surrounding the discovery and characterization of the murine mammary stem/progenitor cell hierarchy and to suggest further approaches that will enhance our knowledge and understanding of these cells and their role in both normal development and neoplasia.
A single mammary epithelial stem cell is capable of generating an entire mammary gland. In vivo, systemic estrogen and locally generated paracrine factors such as amphiregulin regulate stem cell cycling and differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3039534  PMID: 20926515

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