Mammospheres from murine mammary stem cell-enriched basal cells: Clonal characteristics and repopulating potential

Qiaoxiang Dong, Danhan Wang, Abhik Bandyopadhyay, Hui Gao, Karla M. Gorena, Kim Hildreth, Vivienne I. Rebel, Christi A. Walter, Changjiang Huang, Lu Zhe Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Identification of murine mammary stem cells (MaSCs) has been attempted with various in vitro and in vivo assays. While, the in vivo repopulation assay remains as the most definitive assay for MaSC detection, it is expensive, time-consuming, and technically challenging. The in vitro mammosphere assay was considered unreliable because of major concerns about its clonal origin. In the current study, co-culture experiments with mammary cells from fluorescent protein transgenic mice and time-lapse video microscopy revealed that >. 90% mammospheres formed from sorted basal epithelial-enriched cells were of clonal origin in terms of stem cell. These basal-cell derived mammospheres were further distinguished morphologically in a 3-dimensional extracellular matrix culture and functionally in the in vivo repopulation assay. Transplant of single mammospheres or the resultant 3-dimensional solid structures into gland-free mammary fat pads yielded a 70% success rate of multilineage mammary gland reconstitution. Thus, this in vitro sphere formation and differentiation assay is a reliable alternative to the in vivo repopulation assay for the study of MaSCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-404
Number of pages9
JournalStem Cell Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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