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Eur J Cell Biol. 2011 May;90(5):401-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcb.2011.01.002. Epub 2011 Feb 26.

Characterisation of the potential SNARE proteins relevant to milk product release by mouse mammary epithelial cells.

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  • 1INRA, UR1196 Génomique et Physiologie de la Lactation, F-78352, Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, France.


Casein micelles and fat globules are essential components of milk and are both secreted at the apical side of mammary epithelial cells during lactation. Milk fat globules are excreted by budding, being enwrapped by the apical plasma membrane, while caseins contained in transport vesicles are released by exocytosis. Nevertheless, the molecular mechanisms governing casein exocytosis are, to date, not fully deciphered. SNARE proteins are known to take part in cellular membrane trafficking and in exocytosis events in many cell types and we therefore attempted to identify those relevant to casein secretion. With this aim, we performed a detailed analysis of their expression by RT-PCR in both whole mouse mammary gland and in purified mammary acini at various physiological stages, as well as in the HC11 cell line. The expression of some regulatory proteins involved in SNARE complex formation such as Munc-13, Munc-18 and complexins was also explored. The amount of certain SNAREs appeared to be regulated depending on the physiological stage of the mammary gland. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments indicated that SNAP-23 interacted with syntaxin-6, -7 and -12, as well as with VAMP-3, -4 and -8 in mammary epithelial cells during lactation. Finally, the subcellular localisation of candidate SNAREs in these cells was determined both by indirect immunofluorescence and immunogold labelling. The present work provides important new data concerning SNARE proteins in mammary epithelial cells and points to SNAP-23 as a potential central player for the coupling of casein and milk fat globule secretion during lactation.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

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