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Cell Death Dis. 2016 Oct 6;7(10):e2398. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2016.302.

Stat3 modulates chloride channel accessory protein expression in normal and neoplastic mammary tissue.

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Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ES, UK.
Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QP, UK.


Mammary gland regression at the cessation of lactation (involution) is an exquisitely orchestrated process of cell death and tissue remodelling in which Stat3 signalling has an essential role. The involution microenvironment of the mammary gland is considered to be pro-tumourigenic and a proportion of cases of pregnancy-associated breast cancer are suggested to originate in tandem with involution. However, the apparent paradox that STAT3 is required for cell death in normal mammary gland, but is associated with breast cancer cell survival, has not been resolved. Herein, we investigate Stat3-mediated regulation of expression of members of the calcium-activated chloride channel regulator (CLCA) family of proteins during involution and mammary carcinogenesis. Using the conditionally immortal mammary epithelial cell line KIM-2, together with mice exhibiting mammary epithelial cell-specific deletion of Stat3 during lactation, we demonstrate that expression of mCLCA1 and mCLCA2 is elevated in concert with activation of Stat3. By contrast, murine CLCA5 (mCLCA5), the murine orthologue of human CLCA2, is significantly upregulated at 24, 72 and 96 h of involution in Stat3 knockout mice, suggesting a reciprocal regulation of these proteins by Stat3 in vivo. Interestingly, orthotopic tumours arising from transplantation of 4T1 murine mammary tumour cells exhibit both phosphorylated Stat3 and mCLCA5 expression. However, we demonstrate that expression is highly compartmentalized to distinct subpopulations of cells, and that Stat3 retains a suppressive effect on mCLCA5 expression in 4T1 tumour cells. These findings enhance our understanding of the regulation of CLCA channel expression both in vitro and in vivo, and in particular, demonstrate that expression of mCLCA1 and mCLCA2 during involution is profoundly dependent upon Stat3, whereas the relationship between mCLCA5 and Stat3 activity is reciprocal and restricted to different subpopulations of cells.

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