Signaling through the stromal epidermal growth factor receptor is necessary for mammary ductal development

Jane F. Wiesen, Peter Young, Zena Werb, Gerald R. Cunha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

205 Scopus citations

Abstract

Stromal-epithelial interactions are critical in determining patterns of growth, development and ductal morphogenesis in the mammary gland, and their perturbations are significant components of tumorigenesis. Growth factors such as epidermal growth factor (EGF) contribute to these reciprocal stromal-epithelial interactions. To determine the role of signaling through the EGF receptor (EGFR) in mammary ductal growth and branching, we used mice with a targeted null mutation in the Egfr. Because Egfr(-/-) mice die perinatally, transplantation methods were used to study these processes. When we transplanted neonatal mammary glands under the renal capsule of immuno-compromised female mice, we found that EGFR is essential for mammary ductal growth and branching morphogenesis, but not for mammary lobulo-alveolar development. Ductal growth and development was normal in transplants of mammary epithelium from Egfr(-/-) mice into wild-type (WT) gland-free fat pads and in tissue recombinants prepared with WT stroma, irrespective of the source of epithelium (Stroma(WT)/Epi(-/-), Stroma(WT)/Epi(WT)). However, ductal growth and branching was impaired in tissue recombinants prepared with Egfr(-/-) stroma (Stroma(-/-)/Epi(WT), Stroma(-/-)/Epi(-/-)). Thus, for ductal morphogenesis, signaling through the EGFR is required only in the stromal component, the mammary fat pad. These data indicate that the EGFR pathway plays a key role in the stromal-epithelial interactions required for mammary ductal growth and branching morphogenesis. In contrast, signaling through the EGFR is not essential for lobulo-alveolar development. Stimulation of lobulo-alveolar development in the mammary gland grafts by inclusion of a pituitary isograft under the renal capsule as a source of prolactin resulted in normal alveolar development in both Egfr(-/-) and wild-type transplants. Through the use of tissue recombinants and transplantation, we have gained new insights into the nature of stromal-epithelial interactions in the mammary gland, and how they regulate ductal growth and branching morphogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-344
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopment
Volume126
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1999

Keywords

  • Ductal morphogenesis
  • EGFR
  • Growth factor
  • Mammary gland
  • Mouse
  • Stromal-epithelial interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology

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    Wiesen, J. F., Young, P., Werb, Z., & Cunha, G. R. (1999). Signaling through the stromal epidermal growth factor receptor is necessary for mammary ductal development. Development, 126(2), 335-344.