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Mech Dev. 2019 Jul 20:103565. doi: 10.1016/j.mod.2019.103565. [Epub ahead of print]

Long-label-retaining mammary epithelial cells are created early in ductal development and distributed throughout the branching ducts.

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Mammary Stem Cell Section, BRL, CCR, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, United States of America.
School of Medical Diagnostic and Translational Sciences, College of Health Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, United States of America.
Mammary Stem Cell Section, BRL, CCR, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, United States of America. Electronic address:


Long-label retention has been used by many to prove Cairns' immortal strand hypothesis and to identify potential stem cells. Here, we describe two strategies using 5-ethynl-2'-deoxyuridine (EdU) to identify and understand the distribution of long-label-retaining mammary epithelial cells during formation of the mouse mammary ductal system. First, EdU was given upon two consecutive days per week during weeks 4 through 10 and analyzed for label retention at 13 weeks of age. Alternatively, EdU was given for 14 consecutive days beginning at 28 days of age and ending at 42 days of age. Analyses were conducted at >91 days of age (13 weeks). Many more LREC were detected following the second labeling method and their distribution among the subsequently developed ducts. This finding indicated that the early-labeled cells that retained their label were distributed into portions of the gland that developed after the ending of EdU treatment (i.e. 42->91 days). These observations may have important meaning with respect to the previously demonstrated retention of regenerative capacity throughout the mouse mammary gland despite age or reproductive history. These results suggest LREC may represent long-lived progenitor cells that are responsible for mammary gland homeostasis. Additionally, these cells may act as multipotent stem cells capable of mammary gland regeneration upon random fragment transplantation into epithelium-denuded mammary fat pads.


Development; EDU-labeling; Long-label-retaining; Mammary; Stem cell


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