Author(s): Ip MM, Darcy KM
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Abstract Model systems have been developed to investigate the complex and coordinated regulation of mammary gland development and transformation. Primary cultures, using newly isolated cells or tissue, are optimal for such studies since, in comparison to immortalized cell lines, the normal signal transduction pathways are presumed to be intact. Three such models are described, including whole organ culture, mammary epithelial cell (MEC) organoids, and MEC-stromal cocultures. Studies using whole-organ culture have the advantage that the normal glandular architecture remains intact, the MEC can undergo lobuloalveolar development and express milk proteins in a hormone dependent manner, and, following hormonal withdrawal, undergo involution. Moreover, transformation of the MEC is readily accomplished. Culture of isolated MEC organoids within an EHS-derived reconstituted basement membrane permits extensive proliferation, branching end bud and alveolar morphogenesis, and accumulation of milk protein and lipid in a physiologically relevant hormone- and growth factor-dependent manner. This model can thus be utilized to investigate the mechanism by which various modulators exert their direct effects on the epithelium. Finally, in view of compelling evidence for stromal-epithelial interactions during normal mammary gland development, and potentially also during the development of malignancy, models in which MEC can be cocultured with enriched populations of stroma offer considerable potential as a tool to understand the nature and mechanisms of the interactions that occur during the various developmental states, and how such interactions may go awry during carcinogenesis.
This article was published in J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia
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