Progesterone and PR are mainly thought to affect tertiary ductal side branching and alveologenesis in late stage of mammary gland development. Here, we present evidence that they also play a role in early ductal development. This conclusion derived from our analysis of maspin heterozygous (Mp+/-) mice that showed defective ductal development at puberty. The defect was due to a reduced systemic level of progesterone. We show that treatment of Mp+/- mice with progesterone rescued the defect of ductal development. When both wild-type and Mp+/- mice were ovariectomized at 4 wk of age, treatment with progesterone alone can stimulate their ductal growth. In addition, treatment of wild-type mice with the progesterone inhibitor RU486 slowed ductal development in a dose-dependent manner. To confirm that progesterone receptor (PR) was required for progesterone action in ductal development at pubertal stage, we treated ovariectomized PR-deficient (PRKO) and wild-type mice with progesterone and examined ductal development at 7 wk of age. Whereas wild-type mammary glands displayed abundant ductal growth after progesterone treatment, there was a significant retardation of ductal growth in PRKO mice. Furthermore, we observed reduced ductal development in intact PRKO mice at 7 wk of age compared with that of wild-type mice. However, the defect was rescued at late stage of mammary development in PRKO mice. These data demonstrate that progesterone signaling, which is mediated by PR, plays an important role in early ductal development. In PRKO mice, a compensatory mechanism occurs that rescues the ductal defect at a late stage of mammary development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology