[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mammary gland development culminates in lactation and is orchestrated by numerous stimuli and signaling pathways. The Src family of nonreceptor tyrosine kinases plays a pivotal role in cell signaling. In order to determine if Src plays a role in mammary gland development we have examined mammary gland development and function during pregnancy and lactation in mice in which expression of Src has been eliminated.
We have characterized a lactation defect in the Src-/- mice which results in the death of over 80% of the litters nursed by Src-/- dams. Mammary gland development during pregnancy appears normal in these mice; however secretory activation does not seem to occur. Serum prolactin levels are normal in Src-/- mice compared to wildtype controls. Expression of the prolactin receptor at both the RNA and protein level was decreased in Src-/- mice following the transition from pregnancy to lactation, as was phosphorylation of STAT5 and expression of milk protein genes. These results suggest that secretory activation, which occurs following parturition, does not occur completely in Src-/- mice. Failed secretory activation results in precocious involution in the mammary glands of Src-/- even when pups were suckling. Involution was accelerated following pup withdrawal perhaps as a result of incomplete secretory activation. In vitro differentiation of mammary epithelial cells from Src-/- mice resulted in diminished production of milk proteins compared to the amount of milk proteins produced by Src+/+ cells, indicating a direct role for Src in regulating the transcription/translation of milk protein genes in mammary epithelial cells.
Src is an essential signaling modulator in mammary gland development as Src-/- mice exhibit a block in secretory activation that results in lactation failure and precocious involution. Src appears to be required for increased expression of the prolactin receptor and successful downstream signaling, and alveolar cell organization.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prolactin (PRL) and glucocorticoids act synergistically to stimulate transcription of the beta-casein milk protein gene. Signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (Stat5) mediates PRL-dependent trans-activation, and glucocorticoid potentiation occurs through cross talk between glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and Stat5 at the beta-casein promoter. In the mouse, progesterone withdrawal leads to terminal differentiation and secretory activation of the mammary gland at parturition, indicating progesterone's role in repressing milk protein gene expression during pregnancy. To investigate the mechanism of the inhibitory action of progesterone, experiments were performed with cell culture systems reconstituted to express progesterone receptor (PR), the PRL receptor/Stat5 signaling pathway, and GR, enabling evaluation of PR, GR, and Stat5 interactions at the beta-casein promoter. With COS-1, normal murine mammary gland, HC-11, and primary mammary epithelial cells, progestin-PR directly repressed the PRL receptor/Stat5a signaling pathway's mediation of PRL-induced beta-casein transcription. Progestin-PR also inhibited glucocorticoid-GR enhancement of PRL induced trans-activation of beta-casein. Inhibition depended on a functional PR DNA binding domain and specific PR-DNA interactions at the beta-casein promoter. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays in HC-11 cells revealed recruitment of PR and Stat5a to the beta-casein promoter by progestin or PRL, respectively. Recruitment was disrupted by cotreatment with progestin and PRL, suggesting a mutual interference between activated PR and Stat5a. Without PRL, progestin-PR also recruited Stat5a to the beta-casein promoter, suggesting that recruitment of an unactivated form of Stat5a may contribute to inhibition of beta-casein by progesterone. These results define a negative cross talk between PR and Stat5a/GR that may contribute to the physiological role of progesterone to repress lactogenic hormone induction of the beta-casein gene in the mammary gland during pregnancy.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Acknowledgements: This work was supported in part by Public Health Service Grants HD038129 (DPE and SMA), CA16303 (JMR), DK063674 (SMA), and Austrian Science Fund Project F209 (WD).