, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 343-354

Use of PRKO Mice to Study the Role of Progesterone in Mammary Gland Development

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To better understand the distinct physiological roles played by progesterone and estrogen receptors (PR amd ER)4 as well as to study directly PR function in an in vivo context, a novel mutant mouse strain, the PR knockout (PRKO) mouse, was generated carrying a germline loss of function mutation at the PR locus. Mouse mammary gland development has been examined in PRKO mice using reciprocal transplantation experiments to investigate the effects of the stromal and epithelial PRs on ductal and lobuloalveolar development. The absence of PR in transplanted donor epithelium, but not in recipient stroma, prevented normal lobuloalveolar development in response to estrogen and progesterone treatment. Conversely, the presence of PR in the transplanted donor epithelium, but not in the recipient stroma, revealed that PR in the stroma may be necessary for ductal development. Stimulation of ductal development by the PR may, therefore, be mediated by an unknown secondary signaling molecule, possibly a growth factor. The continued stimulation of the stromal PR appears to be dependent on reciprocal signal(s) from the epithelium. Thus, the combination of gene knockout and reciprocal transplantation technologies has provided some new insights into the role of stromal-epithelial interactions and steroid hormones in mammary gland development.