Pubertal mammary gland development: Elucidation of in vivo morphogenesis using Murine models

Jean McBryan, Jillian Howlin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


During the past 25 years, the combination of increasingly sophisticated gene targeting technology with transplantation techniques has allowed researchers to address a wide array of questions about postnatal mammary gland development. These in turn have significantly contributed to our knowledge of other branched epithelial structures. This review chapter highlights a selection of the mouse models exhibiting a pubertal mammary gland phenotype with a focus on how they have contributed to our overall understanding of in vivo mammary morphogenesis. We discuss mouse models that have enabled us to assign functions to particular genes and proteins and, more importantly, have determined when and where these factors are required for completion of ductal outgrowth and branch patterning. The reason for the success of the mouse mammary gland model is undoubtedly the suitability of the postnatal mammary gland to experimental manipulation. The gland itself is very amenable to investigation and the combination of genetic modification with accessibility to the tissue has allowed an impressive number of studies to inform biology. Excision of the rudimentary epithelial structure postnatally allows genetically modified tissue to be readily transplanted into wild type stroma or vice versa, and has thus defined the contribution of each compartment to particular phenotypes. Similarly, whole gland transplantation has been used to definitively discern local effects from indirect systemic effects of various growth factors and hormones. While appreciative of the power of these tools and techniques, we are also cognizant of some of their limitations, and we discuss some shortcomings and future strategies that can overcome them.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)10643745

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology

Free keywords

  • Branch patterning
  • Breast
  • Cell polarity
  • Cell-cell adhesion
  • Development
  • Epithelial branching
  • Extracellular matrix
  • In vivo morphogenesis
  • Knockout
  • Mammary gland
  • Mammary gland transplantation
  • Mammary stem cells
  • Mouse models
  • Pubertal mammary gland development
  • Terminal endbud
  • Transgenic


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