Mammary gland development is induced by the actions of various hormones to form a structure consisting of collecting ducts and milk-secreting alveoli, which comprise two types of epithelial cells known as luminal and basal cells. These cells adhere to each other by cell adhesion apparatuses whose roles in hormone-dependent mammary gland development remain largely unknown. Here we identified a novel cell adhesion apparatus at the boundary between the luminal and basal cells in addition to desmosomes. This apparatus was formed by the trans-interaction between the cell adhesion molecules nectin-4 and nectin-1, which were expressed in the luminal and basal cells, respectively. Nectin-4 of this apparatus further cis-interacted with the prolactin receptor in the luminal cells to enhance the prolactin-induced prolactin receptor signaling for alveolar development with lactogenic differentiation. Thus, a novel nectin-mediated cell adhesion apparatus regulates the prolactin receptor signaling for mammary gland development.
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