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Phenotypic characterization of mouse mammary epithelial stem and progenitor cells

Elucidation of the genes controlling the proliferation and differentiation of mouse mammary epithelial stem (MaSC) and progenitor (Ma-CFC) cells is paramount to understanding the processes that regulate mammary gland development and breast cancer progression. We have previously described a strategy in which MaSC and Ma-CFC can be purified to 5% and 15%, respectively, on the basis of lack of expression of the hematopoietic and endothelial markers CD45, Ter119 and CD31 and on the differential expression of CD24 and CD49f [1], with the MaSC having a CD24medCD49fhigh phenotype and the Ma-CFC having a CD24highCD49flow phenotype. Currently, a definitive analysis of the gene expression profiles of MaSC and Ma-CFC is not possible due to the presence of large numbers of contaminating cells in these enriched subpopulations. However, a preliminary microarray analysis of these subpopulations has identified potential new cell surface markers that can be exploited to further purify MaSC and Ma-CFC. We have initiated a screening program using the markers identified in the microarray analysis as well as markers used to identify other adult tissue stem cells to further purify and characterize MaSC and Ma-CFCs. Results of this screen will be presented.


  1. Stingl J, Eirew P, Ricketson I, Shackletin M, Vaillant F, Choi D, Li HI, Eaves CJ: Purification and unique properties of mammary epithelial stem cells. Nature. 2006, 439: 993-997.

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This work is supported by Breast Cancer Campaign.

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Stingl, J., Eaves, C. & Watson, C. Phenotypic characterization of mouse mammary epithelial stem and progenitor cells. Breast Cancer Res 8 (Suppl 2), P2 (2006).

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