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Who do they think they are? Wnt-responsive cells reveal their family trees

Ordonez, Liliana and Smalley, Matthew John 2012. Who do they think they are? Wnt-responsive cells reveal their family trees. Breast Cancer Research 14 (6) , 327. 10.1186/bcr3351

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Abstract

The nature of stem and progenitor cells in the mammary epithelium, and the relevance of cleared fat pad transplantation as a functional assay for them, has been thrown into doubt by recent lineage-tracking studies. Now two new studies based on tracking the progeny of Wnt-responsive cells are starting to help make sense of this fascinating problem. Background: The mammary gland undergoes dramatic morphological changes during puberty, pregnancy and involution. Transplantation studies of tissue fragments into a cleared mammary fat pad pioneered by DeOme and colleagues showed reconstitution of the mammary gland [1], demon strating the presence of mammary stem cells. Work on serial transplantation of small numbers of purified basal mammary epithelial cells showed that they could regenerate the entire mammary epithelial tree with high efficiency and, indeed, that a single basal cell could do so [2-5]. These studies suggested the presence of multipotent mammary stem cells, located in the basal compartment. In contrast, purified luminal cells have limited fat pad reconstitution ability, although c-Kit-positive luminal cells were capable of forming small epithelial outgrowths in the transplant assay [5]. This model was recently challenged by Van Keymeulen and colleagues, who suggested that the basal and luminal lineages were uncoupled in the adult mammary epithelium and that each lineage contained a unipotent stem cell population [6]. The lineage contribution of stem/progenitor cells during pregnancy was unclear, however, as Van Keymeulen and colleagues were able to label very few luminal cells for lineage tracking - many fewer than the number of pregnancy-responsive progenitors, thought to be luminal, in the gland [5,6]. These progenitors generate alveoli, containing milk-secreting alveolar luminal cells and contractile myoepithelial cells, during pregnancy. Previous studies on lineage tracking of pregnancy-responsive mammary epithelial cells suggested that luminal pregnancy-responsive progenitors could contribute to both luminal and myoepithelial layers in the alveoli [7]. Our understanding of the relationship of stem and progenitor populations in the mammary epithelium with the different epithelial lineages is therefore currently very much in flux; two new publications examining the lineage contributions of Wnt-responsive cells are starting to clear these muddy waters.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute (ECSCRI)
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Publisher: BioMed Central
ISSN: 1465-5411
Funders: BBSRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 15 May 2019 21:14
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/57472

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