Overexpression of Cripto-1 has been reported in several types of human cancers including breast cancer. To investigate the role of human Cripto-1 (CR-1) in mammary gland development and tumorigenesis, we developed transgenic mice that express the human CR-1 transgene under the regulation of the whey acidic protein (WAP) promoter in the FVB/N mouse background. The CR-1 transgene was detected in the mammary gland of 15-week-old virgin WAP-CR-1 female mice that eventually developed hyperplastic lesions. From mid-pregnancy to early lactation, mammary lobulo-alveolar structures in WAP-CR-1 mice were less differentiated and delayed in their development due to decreased cell proliferation as compared to FVB/N mice. Early involution, due to increased apoptosis, was observed in the mammary glands of WAP-CR-1 mice. Higher levels of phosphorylated AKT and MAPK were detected in mammary glands of multiparous WAP-CR-1 mice as compared to multiparous FVB/N mice suggesting increased cell proliferation and survival of the transgenic mammary gland. In addition, more than half (15 of 29) of the WAP-CR-1 multiparous female mice developed multifocal mammary tumors of mixed histological subtypes. These results demonstrate that overexpression of CR-1 during pregnancy and lactation can lead to alterations in mammary gland development and to production of mammary tumors in multiparous mice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine