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Breast Cancer Res. 2004;6(3):105-8. Epub 2004 Mar 9.

Identification of signaling pathways in early mammary gland development by mouse genetics.

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  • 1Laboratory of Genetics and Physiology, National Institute of Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


The mammary gland develops as an appendage of the ectoderm. The prenatal stage of mammary development is hormone independent and is regulated by sequential and reciprocal signaling between the epithelium and the mesenchyme. A number of recent studies using human and mouse genetics, in particular targeted gene deletion and transgenic expression, have identified some of the signals that control specific steps in development. This process involves cell specification and proliferation, reciprocal tissue interactions and cell migration. Since some of these events are recapitulated during tumorigenesis, an understanding of these signaling pathways may contribute to the development of targeted therapies and novel drugs.

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