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.
- cell hierarchy
- mammary stem cell
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics