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Mol Endocrinol. 2002 Jun;16(6):1309-21.

Mouse mammary epithelial cells express the Na-K-Cl cotransporter, NKCC1: characterization, localization, and involvement in ductal development and morphogenesis.

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Laboratory of Genetics and Physiology, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Despite the fact that physiological evidence points to the existence of a functional Na-K-Cl cotransporter in the mammary gland, the molecular identity of this transport process remains unknown. We now show that the Na-K-Cl cotransporter isoform, NKCC1, is expressed in mammary tissue. Developmental profiling revealed that the level of NKCC1 protein was significantly influenced by the stage of mammary gland development, and immunolocalization studies demonstrated that NKCC1 was present on the basolateral membrane of mammary epithelial cells. To examine whether functional NKCC1 is required for mammary epithelial cell development, we used NKCC1 -/- mice. We demonstrate that NKCC1 -/- mammary epithelium exhibited a significant delay in ductal outgrowth and an increase in branching morphogenesis during virgin development. These effects were autonomous to the epithelium as assessed by mammary gland transplantation. Although the absence of NKCC1 had no apparent effect on gross mammary epithelial cell morphology during lactation, pups born to NKCC1 -/- mice failed to thrive. Finally, analysis of NKCC1 protein in mouse models that exhibit defects in mammary gland development demonstrate that high levels of NKCC1 protein are indicative of ductal epithelial cells, and the presence of NKCC1 protein is characteristic of mammary epithelial cell identity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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