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Mol Biol Cell. 1995 Oct;6(10):1287-303.

Matrix metalloproteinases are expressed during ductal and alveolar mammary morphogenesis, and misregulation of stromelysin-1 in transgenic mice induces unscheduled alveolar development.

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Department of Cell Biology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37232, USA.


The matrix-degrading metalloproteinases stromelysin-1, stromelysin-3, and gelatinase A are expressed during ductal branching morphogenesis of the murine mammary gland. Stromelysin-1 expression in particular correlates with ductal elongation, and in situ hybridization and three-dimensional reconstruction studies revealed that stromelysin-1 mRNA was concentrated in stromal fibroblasts along the length of advancing ducts. Transgenic mice expressing an activated form of stromelysin-1 under the control of the MMTV promoter/enhancer exhibited inappropriate alveolar development in virgin females. Ultrastructural analysis demonstrated that the basement membrane underlying epithelial and myoepithelial cells was amorphous and discontinuous compared with the highly ordered basal lamina in control mammary glands. Transgenic mammary glands had at least a twofold increase in the number of cells/unit area and a 1.4-fold increase in the percent of cycling cells by 13 wk of age compared with nontransgenic littermates. In addition, transgenic glands expressed beta-casein mRNA, but not protein, and resembled the proliferative and differentiated state of an animal between 8 and 10 days pregnant. An analysis of metalloproteinase expression in the glands of normal pregnant females demonstrated that the same matrix metalloproteinase family members, including stromelysin-1, were expressed in connective tissue cells surrounding epithelial clusters during the time of lobuloalveolar development. These results suggest that metalloproteinases may assist in remodeling ECM during normal ductal and alveolar branching morphogenesis, and that disruption of the basement membrane by an activated metalloproteinase can affect basic cellular processes of proliferation and differentiation.

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