In Vitro

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 316–328

Maintenance and induction of morphological differentiation in dissociated mammary epithelium on floating collagen membranes

  • Joanne T. Emerman
  • Dorothy R. Pitelka

DOI: 10.1007/BF02616178

Cite this article as:
Emerman, J.T. & Pitelka, D.R. In Vitro (1977) 13: 316. doi:10.1007/BF02616178


Dissociated normal mammary epithelial cells from prelactating mice were plated on different substrates in various medium-serum-hormone combinations to find conditions that would permit maintenance of morphological differentiation. Cells cultured on floating collagen membranes in medium containing insulin, hydrocortisone and prolactin maintain differentiation through 1 month in culture. The surface cells form a continuous epithelial pavement. Some epithelial cells below the surface layer rearrange themselves to form alveolus-like structures. Cells at both sites display surface polarization; microvilli and tight junctions are present at their medium-facing or luminal surface and a basal lamina separates the epithelial components from the gel and stromal cells. Occasinal myoepithelial cells, characterized by myofilaments and plasmalemmal vesicles, are identified at the basal surface of the secretory epithelium. In contrast, cells cultured on plastic, glass or collagen gels attached to Petri dishes form a confluent epithelial sheet showing surface polarization, but lose secretory and myoepithelial specializations. If these dedifferentiated cells are subsequently maintained on floating collagen membranes, they redifferentiate. There is little DNA synthesis in cells on collagen gels, in contrast to Petri-dish controls. Protein synthesis in cells on floating collagen membranes increases over T0 values and remains constant through 7 days in culture whereas it decreases on attached gels; however, if the gels are freed to float, protein synthesis increases sharply and parallels that seen on floating membranes.

Key words

cell differentiation cell culture collagen substrate mammary epithelium secretory apparatus 

Copyright information

© Tissue Culture Association 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanne T. Emerman
    • 1
  • Dorothy R. Pitelka
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology and Cancer Research LaboratoryUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley