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J Histochem Cytochem. 1995 May;43(5):461-70.

Dramatic heterogeneity of transgene expression in the mammary gland of lactating mice: a model system to study the synthetic activity of mammary epithelial cells.

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Institute of Animal Science, ARO, Volcani Center, Bet Dagan, Israel.


We studied the expression of human serum albumin (HSA) driven by the ovine beta-lactoglobulin promoter in the mammary glands of lactating mice from five independent transgenic strains, by employing combined in situ hybridization and immunostaining techniques. Four strains displayed a heterogeneous pattern of expression: mice of strains 91 and 92 expressed the transgene in only a fraction of the lobules, whereas in strains 69 and 83 all lobules contained cells expressing HSA. In all four strains the patterns of expression within expressing lobules corresponded to the morphology of alveolar cells and to the extent of local milk secretion, suggesting that filling of alveolus with secreted material was accompanied by asynchronous downregulation of transgene expression. In situ hybridization to the endogenous milk protein genes alpha-lactalbumin, beta-casein, and whey acidic protein revealed a uniform pattern of expression in lactating mammary glands of transgeneic and in four out of five non-transgeneic mice. In the fifth control mouse, we detected downregulation of gene expression in lobules containing alveoli distended by secreted milk. The pattern of expression of the three endogenous genes was greatly disturbed after a short (3-hr) unilateral closure of mammary glands, and very much resembled the pattern of expression of the HSA transgenes. These results demonstrate that transgeneic mice provide a useful model to study the factors that regulate the synthetic activity of mammary epithelial cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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