We have examined the role of integrin-extracellular matrix interactions in the morphogenesis of ductal structures in vivo using the developing mouse mammary gland as a model. At puberty, ductal growth from terminal end buds results in an arborescent network that eventually fills the gland, whereupon the buds shrink in size and become mitotically inactive. End buds are surrounded by a basement membrane, which we show contains laminin-1 and collagen IV. To address the role of cell-matrix interactions in gland development, pellets containing function-perturbing anti-beta1 integrin, anti-alpha6 integrin, and anti-laminin antibodies respectively were implanted into mammary glands at puberty. Blocking beta1 integrins dramatically reduced both the number of end buds per gland and the extent of the mammary ductal network, compared with controls. These effects were specific to the end buds since the rest of the gland architecture remained intact. Reduced development was still apparent after 6 days, but end buds subsequently reappeared, indicating that the inhibition of beta1 integrins was reversible. Similar results were obtained with anti-laminin antibodies. In contrast, no effect on morphogenesis in vivo was seen with anti-alpha6 integrin antibody, suggesting that alpha6 is not the important partner for beta1 in this system. The studies with beta1 integrin were confirmed in a culture model of ductal morphogenesis, where we show that hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)-induced tubulogenesis is dependent on functional beta1 integrins. Thus integrins and HGF cooperate to regulate ductal morphogenesis. We propose that both laminin and beta1 integrins are required to permit cellular traction through the stromal matrix and are therefore essential for maintaining end bud structure and function in normal pubertal mammary gland development.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.