Simultaneous occurrence of pregnancylike lobuloalveolar morphogenesis and casein-gene expression in a culture of the whole mammary gland
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Entire second thoracic mammary glands of estrogen- and progesterone-treated immature virgin BALB/c mice were stimulated to pregnancylike lobuloalveolar morphogenesis after 6 days of incubation with insulin (5 μg/ml), aldosterone (1 μg/ml), growth hormone (5 μg/ml), cortisol (5 μg/ml), and prolactin (80 ng/ml, present as a contaminant in 5 μg/ml growth hormone). The alveolar growth in the glands, as judged by morphological studies, was accompanied by an increase in cell number as a function of incubation time in the hormonal medium. Hybridization of the total RNA from these glands to the casein mRNA specific complementary DNA probe (cDNAcsn) revealed that the level of casein mRNA rises from 0.00012 to 0.005% between 1 and 6 days of incubation. Estimates showed that the concentration of casein mRNA per cell rises 17-fold from 70 molecules on Day 1 to 1200 molecules on Day 6, whereas the number of epithelial cells increases only twofold during the same incubation time. When the growth hormone preparation was totally replaced by 80 ng of prolactin during the 6-day incubation, casein-mRNA levels were found to be 0.0083%. These results demonstrate that a pregnancy-like morphogenesis and concurrent expression of the casein gene in vitro can be achieved in a controlled hormone environment containing high cortisol and low prolactin concentrations. This one-step mammogenesis-lactogenesis culture model should be useful for studying the mechanisms of hormonal regulation of casein-gene expression observed in prepartum mammary gland in vivo.
Key wordsBALB/c mice organ culture cortisol prolactin cDNA hybridization casein mRNA
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