Phenotypic plasticity in normal breast derived epithelial cells

Candice A.M. Sauder, Jillian E. Koziel, Mi Ran Choi, Melanie J. Fox, Brenda R. Grimes, Sunil Badve, Rachel J. Blosser, Milan Radovich, Christina C. Lam, Melville B. Vaughan, Brittney Shea Herbert, Susan E. Clare*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Normal, healthy human breast tissue from a variety of volunteer donors has become available for research thanks to the establishment of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center (KTB). Multiple epithelial (K-HME) and stromal cells (K-HMS) were established from the donated tissue. Explant culture was utilized to isolate the cells from pieces of breast tissue. Selective media and trypsinization were employed to select either epithelial cells or stromal cells. The primary, non-transformed epithelial cells, the focus of this study, were characterized by immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, and in vitro cell culture.Results: All of the primary, non-transformed epithelial cells tested have the ability to differentiate in vitro into a variety of cell types when plated in or on biologic matrices. Cells identified include stratified squamous epithelial, osteoclasts, chondrocytes, adipocytes, neural progenitors/neurons, immature muscle and melanocytes. The cells also express markers of embryonic stem cells.Conclusions: The cell culture conditions employed select an epithelial cell that is pluri/multipotent. The plasticity of the epithelial cells developed mimics that seen in metaplastic carcinoma of the breast (MCB), a subtype of triple negative breast cancer; and may provide clues to the origin of this particularly aggressive type of breast cancer. The KTB is a unique biorepository, and the normal breast epithelial cells isolated from donated tissue have significant potential as new research tools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20
JournalBMC Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 10 2014


  • Basal
  • Breast
  • Embryonic
  • Epithelium
  • Metaplasia
  • Plasticity
  • Squamous

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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