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Breast Cancer Res. 2007;9(4):R42.

Expression of truncated Int6/eIF3e in mammary alveolar epithelium leads to persistent hyperplasia and tumorigenesis.

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Mammary Biology and Tumorigenesis Laboratory, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.



Int6 has been shown to be an interactive participant with the protein translation initiation complex eIF3, the COP9 signalosome and the regulatory lid of the 26S proteasome. Insertion of mouse mammary tumor virus into the Int6 locus creates a C-terminally truncated form of the protein. Expression of the truncated form of Int6 (Int6sh) in stably transfected human and mouse mammary epithelial cell lines leads to cellular transformation. In addition, decreased expression of Int6/eIF3e is observed in approximately one third of all human breast carcinomas.


To validate that Int6sh has transforming activity in vivo, a transgenic mouse model was designed using the whey acidic protein (Wap) promoter to target expression of truncated Int6 to differentiating alveolar epithelial cells in the mammary gland. Microarray analyses were performed on normal, premalignant and malignant WapInt6sh expressing tissues.


Mammary tumors developed in 42% of WapInt6sh heterozygous parous females at an average age of 18 months. In WapInt6sh mice, the contralateral mammary glands from both tumorous and non-tumorous tissues contained widespread focal alveolar hyperplasia. Only 4% of WapInt6sh non-breeding females developed tumors by 2 years of age. The Wap promoter is active only during estrus in the mammary tissue of cycling non-pregnant mice. Microarray analyses of mammary tissues demonstrated that Int6sh expression in the alveolar tissue altered the mammary transcriptome in a specific manner that was detectable even in the first pregnancy. This Int6sh-specific transcriptome pattern subsequently persisted in both the Int6sh-expressing alveolar hyperplasia and mammary tumors. These observations are consistent with the conclusion that WapInt6sh-expressing alveolar cells survive involution following the cessation of lactation, and subsequently give rise to the mammary tumors that arise in aging multiparous females.


These observations provide direct in vivo evidence that mammary-specific expression of the Int6sh truncation leads to persistence of alveolar hyperplasia with the accompanying increased predisposition to mammary tumorigenesis.

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