Mammary epithelial cells undergo changes in growth, invasion, differentiation, and dedifferentiation throughout much of adult hood, and most strikingly during pregnancy, lactation, and involution. Clusterin is a multifunctional glycoprotein that is involved in the differentiation and morphogenesis of epithelia, and that is important in the regulation of postnatal mammary gland development. However, the mechanisms that regulate clusterin expression are still poorly understood. Here, we show that clusterin is up-regulated twice during mouse mammary gland development, a first time at the end of pregnancy and a second time at the beginning of the involution. These points of clusterin up-regulation coincide with the dramatic phenotypic and functional changes occurring in the mammary gland. Using cell culture conditions that resemble the regulatory microenvironment in vivo, we determined that the factors responsible for the first up-regulation of clusterin levels can include the extracellular matrix component, laminin, and the lactogenic hormones, prolactin and hydrocortisone. On the other hand, the second and most dramatic up-regulation of clusterin can be due to the potent induction by TGF-β1, and this up-regulation by TGF-β1 is dependent on β1 integrin ligand-binding activity. Moreover, the level of expression of β-casein, a marker of mammary epithelial cell differentiation, was decreased upon treatment of cells with clusterin siRNA. Overall, these findings reveal several novel pathways for the regulation of clusterin expression during mammary gland development, and suggest that clusterin is a morphogenic factor that plays a key role during differentiation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology