A specific defect of mice lacking cyclin D1 (Cyl-1(-/-)) is impaired development of the mammary gland during pregnancy. Here we show that when tissue from Cyl-1(-/-) mammary gland was transplanted into empty mammary fat pad of wild-type mice, the abnormal phenotype was maintained, indicating that it is epithelial cell autonomous. Nevertheless, in pregnancy the early proliferative response, which is characterized by extensive side branching, still occurs in the absence of cyclin D1. However, the response is atypical due to a marked reduction in the formation of accompanying alveoli. This reduction and delay in alveolar development persists throughout pregnancy. Moreover, although prolactin synthesis and release appear to be normal, lactogenesis is severely compromised. Consistent with the appearance of numerous side branches, progesterone receptor expression was readily detected in the mammary tissue of pregnant Cyl-1(-/-) mice, although there was a significant change in the ratio of the two (A and B) receptor isoforms. In Cyl-1(-/-) mammary glands during late pregnancy there was a decrease in the abundance of total and phosphorylated Stat5a, as well as delayed onset and substantial diminution of milk protein expression. The biochemical analysis suggests that there is a cumulative delay in growth and differentiation of the mammary gland during pregnancy that results in a severely compromised gland when, at parturition, further development is curtailed by the abrupt change in hormonal milieu.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.