The dynamics of murine mammary stem/progenitor cells

Qiaoxiang Dong, Lu Zhe Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The stem/progenitor cells in the murine mammary gland are a highly dynamic population of cells that are responsible for ductal elongation in puberty, homeostasis maintenance in adult, and lobulo-alveolar genesis during pregnancy. In recent years understanding the epithelial cell hierarchy within the mammary gland is becoming particularly important as these different stem/progenitor cells were perceived to be the cells of origin for various subtypes of breast cancer. Although significant advances have been made in enrichment and isolation of stem/progenitor cells by combinations of antibodies against cell surface proteins together with flow cytometry, and in identification of stem/progenitor cells with multi-lineage differentiation and self-renewal using mammary fat pad reconstitution assay and in vivo genetic labeling technique, a clear understanding of how these different stem/progenitors are orchestrated in the mammary gland is still lacking. Here we discuss the different in vivo and in vitro methods currently available for stem/progenitor identification, their associated caveats, and a possible new hierarchy model to reconcile various putative stem/progenitor cell populations identified by different research groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-185
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014


  • cell hierarchy
  • mammary stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Genetics


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