Diminished milk synthesis in upstream stimulatory factor 2 null mice is associated with decreased circulating oxytocin and decreased mammary gland expression of eukaryotic initiation factors 4E and 4G

Mol Endocrinol. 2003 Nov;17(11):2251-67. doi: 10.1210/me.2002-0031. Epub 2003 Aug 7.


Previous studies have suggested that upstream stimulatory factors (USFs) regulate genes involved with cell cycle progression. Because of the relationship of USFs to an important oncogene in breast cancer, c-myc, we chose to determine the importance of USF to normal mammary gland development in the mouse. Expression of USF in the mammary gland throughout development demonstrated only modest changes. Mutation of the Usf2 gene was associated with reduced fertility in females, but had no effect on prepartum mammary gland development. However, lactation performance in Usf2-/- females was only half of that observed in Usf2+/+ females, and both lactose and nitrogen were decreased in milk from Usf2-/- dams. This decrease was associated with diminished mammary tissue wet weight and luminal area by d 9 of lactation and with a decreased protein-DNA ratio. This decrease was associated with reduced abundance of the eukaryotic initiation factors eIF4E and eIF4G. Blood oxytocin concentrations on d 9 postpartum were also lower in Usf2-/- mice than Usf2+/+ mice. In contrast, the mutation had no effect on blood prolactin concentrations, mammary cell proliferation or apoptosis, mammary tissue oxytocin receptors, or milk protein gene expression. The mutation had only modest effects on maternal behavior. These data support the idea that USF is important to physiological processes necessary for the establishment and maintenance of normal lactation and suggest that USF-2 may impact lactation through both systemic and mammary cell-specific mechanisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / deficiency*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E / metabolism*
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4G / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Lactation
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / metabolism*
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Milk / metabolism*
  • Milk Proteins / genetics
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Organ Size
  • Oxytocin / blood*
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / deficiency*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Upstream Stimulatory Factors


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4G
  • Milk Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factors
  • Upstream Stimulatory Factors
  • Usf1 protein, mouse
  • Usf2 protein, mouse
  • Oxytocin