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A mouse mammary tumor virus-Wnt-1 transgene induces mammary gland hyperplasia and tumorigenesis in mice lacking estrogen receptor-alpha

A mouse mammary tumor virus-Wnt-1 transgene induces mammary gland hyperplasia and tumorigenesis in mice lacking estrogen receptor-alpha

Cancer Research 59(8): 1869-1876

Estrogens have important functions in mammary gland development and carcinogenesis. To better define these roles, we have used two previously characterized lines of genetically altered mice: estrogen receptor-alpha (ER alpha) knockout (ERKO) mice, which lack the gene encoding ER alpha, and mouse mammary virus tumor (MMTV)-Wnt-1 transgenic mice (Wnt-1 TG), which develop mammary hyperplasia and neoplasia due to ectopic production of the Wnt-1 secretory glycoprotein. We have crossed these lines to ascertain the effects of ER alpha deficiency on mammary gland development and carcinogenesis in mice expressing the Wnt-1 transgene. Introduction of the Wnt-1 transgene into the ERKO background stimulates proliferation of alveolar-like epithelium, indicating that Wnt-1 protein can promote mitogenesis in the absence of an ER alpha-mediated response. The hyperplastic glandular tissue remains confined to the nipple region, implying that the requirement for ER alpha in ductal expansion is not overcome by ectopic Wnt-1. Tumors were detected in virgin ERKO females expressing the Wnt-1 transgene at an average age (48 weeks) that is twice that seen in virgin Wnt-1 TG mice (24 weeks) competent to produce ER alpha. Prepubertal ovariectomy of Wnt-1 TG mice also extended tumor latency to 42 weeks. However, pregnancy did not appear to accelerate the appearance of tumors in Wnt-1 TG mice, and tumor growth rates were not measurably affected by late ovariectomy. Small hyperplastic mammary glands were observed in Wnt-1 TG males, regardless of ER alpha gene status; the glands were similar in appearance to those found in ERKO/Wnt-1 TG females. Mammary tumors also occurred in Wnt-1 TG males; latency tended to be longer in the heterozygous ER alpha and ERKO males (86 to 100 weeks) than in wild-type ER alpha mice (ca. 75 weeks). We conclude that ectopic expression of the Wnt-1 proto-oncogene can induce mammary hyperplasia and tumorigenesis in the absence of ER alpha in female and male mice. The delayed time of tumor appearance may depend on the number of cells at risk of secondary events in the hyperplastic glands, on the carcinogenesis-promoting effects of ER alpha signaling, or on both.

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Accession: 010070729

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PMID: 10213494

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