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Breast Cancer Res. 2011 Apr 6;13(2):306. doi: 10.1186/bcr2840.

Cell fate takes a slug in BRCA1-associated breast cancer.

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Stem Cells and Cancer Division, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, 1G Royal Parade, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia.


Understanding why BRCA1 mutation carriers have a predilection for developing clinically aggressive basal-like breast tumors could inform the development of targeted treatment or prevention strategies. Analysis of both mouse and human mammary epithelial cells has identified a role for BRCA1 in orchestrating differentiation. The ability to isolate discrete epithelial subpopulations from mammary tissue has recently directed attention to luminal progenitor cells - the descendants of mammary stem cells - as the likely 'cells-of-origin' in BRCA1-associated breast cancer. A new publication has confirmed the importance of aberrant luminal cells as key culprits and provided insights on how BRCA1 haploinsufficiency biases luminal cells toward a basal-like fate through aberrant expression of the transcription factor SLUG.

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