Delivering the message: epimorphin and mammary epithelial morphogenesis

Trends Cell Biol. 2003 Aug;13(8):426-34. doi: 10.1016/s0962-8924(03)00146-6.


The mammary gland consists of a highly branched tubular epithelium surrounded by a complex mesenchymal stroma. Epimorphin is an extracellular protein that is expressed by mammary mesenchymal cells that directs epithelial morphogenesis. Depending upon the context of presentation--polar versus apolar--epimorphin can selectively direct two key processes of tubulogenesis: branching morphogenesis (processes involved in tubule initiation and extension) and luminal morphogenesis (required for enlargement of tubule caliber). Here, we outline the fundamentals of mammary gland development and describe the function of epimorphin in these processes. We conclude with a review of recent studies that suggest similar morphogenic roles for epimorphin in other glandular organs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Protein-beta / physiology
  • Epithelium / growth & development*
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Growth Substances / physiology
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / growth & development*
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / physiology
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / physiology
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology*
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Morphogenesis
  • Qa-SNARE Proteins
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Protein-beta
  • Epim protein, mouse
  • Growth Substances
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Qa-SNARE Proteins
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases