Mammary stem cells (MaSCs) play essential roles for the development of the mammary gland and its remodeling during pregnancy. However, the precise localization of MaSCs in the mammary gland and their regulation during pregnancy is unknown. Here we report a transgenic mouse model for luciferase-based single marker detection of MaSCs in vivo that we used to address these issues. Single transgene expressing mammary epithelial cells were shown to reconstitute mammary glands in vivo while immunohistochemical staining identified MaSCs in basal and luminal locations, with preponderance towards the basal position. By quantifying luciferase expression using bioluminescent imaging, we were able to track MaSCs non-invasively in individual mice over time. Using this model to monitor MaSC dynamics throughout pregnancy, we found that MaSCs expand in both total number and percentage during pregnancy and then drop down to or below baseline levels after weaning. However, in a second round of pregnancy, this expansion was not as extensive. These findings validate a powerful system for the analysis of MaSC dynamics in vivo, which will facilitate future characterization of MaSCs during mammary gland development and breast cancer.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)