Netrin-1 has been shown to regulate the function of the EGF-like protein Cripto-1 (Cr-1) and affect mammary gland development. Since Cr-1 is a target gene of Nanog and Oct4, we investigated the relationship between Netrin-1 and Cr-1, Nanog and Oct4 during different stages of development in the mouse mammary gland. Results from histological analysis show that exogenous Netrin-1 was able to induce formation of alveolar-like structures within the mammary gland terminal end buds of virgin transgenic Cripto-1 mice and enhance mammary gland alveologenesis in early pregnant FVB/N mice. Results from immunostainingand Western blot analysis show that Netrin-1, Nanog and Oct4 are expressed in the mouse embryonic mammary anlage epithelium while Cripto-1 is predominantly expressed outside this structure in the surrounding mesenchyme. We find that in lactating mammary glands of postnatal FVB/N mice, Netrin-1 expression is highest while Cripto-1 and Nanog levels are lowest indicating that Netrin-1 may perform a role in the mammary gland during lactation. HC-11 mouse mammary epithelial cells stimulated with lactogenic hormones and exogenous soluble Netrin-1 showed increased beta-casein expression as compared to control thus supporting the potential role for Netrin-1 during functional differentiation of mouse mammary epithelial cells. Finally, mouse ES cells treated with exogenous soluble Netrin-1 showed reduced levels of Nanog and Cripto-1 and higher levels of beta-III tubulin during differentiation. These results suggest that Netrin-1 may facilitate functional differentiation of mammary epithelial cells and possibly affect the expression of Nanog and/or Cripto-1 in multipotent cells that may reside in the mammary gland.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Cell Biology