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Nat Cell Biol. 2014 Oct;16(10):942-50, 1-7. doi: 10.1038/ncb3025. Epub 2014 Aug 31.

Mammary stem cells have myoepithelial cell properties.

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Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge, Li Ka Shing Centre, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 0RE, UK.
1] Institut Curie, Centre de Recherche, Paris, F-75248, France [2] CNRS, UMR144, Paris, F-75248, France.
Reconstructive Sciences, University of Connecticut Health Center, 263 Farmington Avenue, Farmington, Connecticut 06030-3705, USA.
The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Garscube Estate, Switchback Road, Bearsden, Glasgow G61 1BD, UK.
Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, (CNRS/INSERM/Université de Strasbourg/Collège de France), Illkirch Cedex 67404, France.


Contractile myoepithelial cells dominate the basal layer of the mammary epithelium and are considered to be differentiated cells. However, we observe that up to 54% of single basal cells can form colonies when seeded into adherent culture in the presence of agents that disrupt actin-myosin interactions, and on average, 65% of the single-cell-derived basal colonies can repopulate a mammary gland when transplanted in vivo. This indicates that a high proportion of basal myoepithelial cells can give rise to a mammary repopulating unit (MRU). We demonstrate that myoepithelial cells, flow-sorted using two independent myoepithelial-specific reporter strategies, have MRU capacity. Using an inducible lineage-tracing approach we follow the progeny of myoepithelial cells that express α-smooth muscle actin and show that they function as long-lived lineage-restricted stem cells in the virgin state and during pregnancy.

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