The Nuclear Factor I (NFI) gene family in mammary gland development and function

J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2003 Apr;8(2):241-54. doi: 10.1023/a:1025909109843.


Mammary gland development and function require the coordinated spatial and temporal expression of a large fraction of the mammalian genome. A number of site-specific transcription factors are essential to achieve the appropriate growth, branching, expansion, and involution of the mammary gland throughout early postnatal development and the lactation cycle. One family of transcription factors proposed to play a major role in the mammary gland is encoded by the Nuclear Factor I (NFI) genes. The NFI gene family is found only in multicellular animals, with single genes being present in flies and worms and four genes in vertebrates. While the NFI family expanded and diversified prior to the evolution of the mammary gland, it is clear that several mammary-gland specific genes are regulated by NFI proteins. Here we address the structure and evolution of the NFI gene family and examine the role of the NFI transcription factors in the expression of mammary-gland specific proteins, including whey acidic protein and carboxyl ester lipase. We discuss current data showing that unique NFI proteins are expressed during lactation and involution and suggest that the NFI gene family likely has multiple important functions throughout mammary gland development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Chickens
  • DNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Humans
  • Lactation
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / embryology*
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / physiology
  • Mammary Glands, Human / embryology*
  • Mammary Glands, Human / physiology
  • Mice
  • Models, Genetic
  • NFI Transcription Factors
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Rats
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Y-Box-Binding Protein 1


  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • NFI Transcription Factors
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Y-Box-Binding Protein 1
  • YBX1 protein, human