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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1977 Feb;74(2):582-6.

Surface differentiation antigens of human mammary epithelial cells carried on the human milk fat globule.


Rabbit antibodies against components of the human milk fat globule bind specifically to normal human breast epithelial cells and cell lines derived from breast carcinomas, as well as to the outer surface of the human milk fat globule. Variation in indirect immunofluorescence staining in both intensity per cell and percentage of cells stained is observed for the different brest cell lines. Cells derived from other epithelial and other ectodermal tissues, fetal fibroblasts, cells of the blood buffy coat, and even fibroblasts of the breast itself do not bind the antibodies. This suggests that these antibodies are detecting cell-type-specific antigens. These normal breast epithelial cell antigens are on the cell surface and their expression is stable in long-term cultured cell lines, even after much chromosomal variation in a given line. By affinity chromatography, three distinct antigenic components can be isolated from the milk fat globule, one of which contains carbohydrate. These differentiation antigens of the human breast epithelial cell are not only useful as specific cell-type markers, but also can provide a tool to study the role of the cell surface in normal and neoplastic mammary development.

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