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Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Feb 1;41(3):1622-36. doi: 10.1093/nar/gks1310. Epub 2012 Dec 28.

Sequential activation of genetic programs in mouse mammary epithelium during pregnancy depends on STAT5A/B concentration.

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Laboratory of Genetics and Physiology, National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20815, USA.


The transcription factors Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (STAT) 5A/B mediate prolactin-induced mammary development during pregnancy. However, it is not clear how the different processes, expansion and maturation of alveolar precursor cells and the differential induction of milk protein genes are regulated on a molecular level. We have used mouse genetics and genome-wide analyses to determine how altering concentrations of STAT5A and STAT5B impacts mammary epithelial development during pregnancy and the regulation of target genes. The presence of only a single Stat5a or Stat5b allele was sufficient for the establishment of histologically undifferentiated alveolar units and two alleles permitted the execution of a differentiation program similar to that found with all four alleles. While one copy of Stat5 induced limited expression of target genes, two copies activated a lactation-like gene signature. Using ChIP-seq analyses on intact tissue under physiological conditions, we found that highly expressed and regulated genes were bound by STAT5 in their promoter proximal regions, whereas upstream binding had minor biological consequences. Remarkably, 80% of the genes bound by STAT5 in vivo were not under STAT5 control. RNA polymerase II intensity was directly proportional to STAT5 concentration only on STAT5 regulated genes providing mechanistic insight by which STAT5 activates mammary specific genes.

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