Monoclonal Antibodies in the Study of Mammary Development and Neoplasia
We discuss briefly the general characteristics of the monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) useful for identifying cell types in the mammary gland, and the problem of cross-reactivity. We discuss the cell types recognized in the rat mammary gland by MoAbs and polyclonal sera and their possible connections in two separate lineages, lumenal and basal-myoepithelial. Emphasis is given to the identification of stem cells present in the end buds. On the basis of marker distribution the very early ducts are made up of stem cells. Stem cells are not present only in end buds. Transplantation experiments show that they are also present in ducts, where they can be identified by marker distribution. There is some evidence that in addition to these pluripotent stem cells, there is a second type, committed to producing ducts and alveoli. We have studied the distribution of the markers in rat mammary cancers induced by NMU. They show that cancers derive from stem cells, but it cannot be decided which kind. Even in cancers with relatively typical mammary organization, the expression of the markers is irregular. Transplanted cancers are much more abnormal. They express Thy-1, which is also expressed by cells of early ducts. This suggests that cancer progesssion follows backwards the developmental pathway. We also describe two MoAbs with considerable specificity for human breast cancer of possible clinical usefulness.
KeywordsMammary Gland Pluripotent Stem Cell Myoepithelial Cell Commit Stem Cell Basal Keratin
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