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J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 1998 Apr;3(2):201-13.

Structural cues from the tissue microenvironment are essential determinants of the human mammary epithelial cell phenotype.

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Life Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA.


Historically, the study of normal human breast function and breast disorders has been significantly impaired by limitations inherent to available model systems. Recent improvements in human breast epithelial cell lines and three-dimensional (3-D)3 culture systems have contributed to the development of in vitro model systems that recapitulate differentiated epithelial cell phenotypes with remarkable fidelity. Molecular characterization of these human breast cell models has demonstrated that normal breast epithelial cell behavior is determined in part by the precise interplay that exists between a cell and its surrounding microenvironment. Recent functional studies of integrins in a human model system provide evidence to support the idea that the structural stability afforded by integrin-mediated cell-extracellular matrix interactions is an important determinant of normal cellular behavior, and that alterations in tissue structure can give rise to tumorigenic progression.

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