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EMBO J. 1998 Apr 15;17(8):2139-47.

Perturbation of beta1-integrin function alters the development of murine mammary gland.

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UMR 144, CNRS-Institut Curie, Section de Recherche, 26, rue d'Ulm, 75248, Paris, Cedex 05, France.


The expression of a transgene coding for a chimeric molecule, containing the cytoplasmic and transmembrane domains of the beta1-integrin chain and the extracellular domain of the T-cell differentiation antigen CD4, was targeted to the mouse mammary gland by the mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) promoter. The chimera does not interact with the extracellular ligands; however, its expression in cultured cells was shown to interfere with focal adhesion kinase (FAK) phosphorylation following ligation of endogenous beta1-integrin. Therefore, expression of the transgenic protein on the cell surface should uncouple adhesion from intracellular events associated with the beta1-cytoplasmic domain and thus perturb beta1-integrin functions. Although most of the transgenic females were able to lactate, their mammary glands had a phenotype clearly distinct from that of wild-type mice. At mid-pregnancy and the beginning of lactation, transgenic glands were underdeveloped and the epithelial cell proliferation rates were decreased, while the apoptosis levels were higher than in wild-type glands. In lactation, the amounts of the whey acidic protein (WAP) and beta-casein gene transcripts were diminished, and the basement membrane component, laminin and the beta4-integrin chain accumulated at the lateral surface of luminal epithelial cells, revealing defects in polarization. Our observations prove that in vivo, beta1-integrins are involved in control of proliferation, apoptosis, differentiation and maintenance of baso-apical polarity of mammary epithelial cells, and therefore are essential for normal mammary gland development and function.

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