Fatty acid synthase is required for mammary gland development and milk production during lactation

Janel Suburu, Lihong Shi, Jiansheng Wu, Shihua Wang, Michael Samuel, Michael J. Thomas, Nancy D. Kock, Guangyu Yang, Steven Kridel, Yong Q. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The mammary gland is one of the few adult tissues that strongly induce de novo fatty acid synthesis upon physiological stimulation, suggesting that fatty acid is important for milk production during lactation. The committed enzyme to perform this function is fatty acid synthase (FASN. To determine whether de novo fatty acid synthesis is obligatory or dietary fat is sufficient for mammary gland development and function during lactation, Fasn was specifically knocked out in mouse mammary epithelial cells. We found that deletion of Fasn hindered the development and induced the premature involution of the lactating mammary gland and significantly decreased medium- and long-chain fatty acids and total fatty acid contents in the milk. Consequently, pups nursing from Fasn knockout mothers experienced growth retardation and preweanling death, which was rescued by cross-fostering pups to a lactating wild-type mother. These results demonstrate that FASN is essential for the development, functional competence, and maintenance of the lactating mammary gland.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1132-E1143
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2014


  • Fatty acid synthase
  • Gene knockout
  • Lactation
  • Lipid synthesis
  • Mammary gland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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