Notch in mammary gland development and breast cancer

Semin Cancer Biol. 2004 Oct;14(5):341-7. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2004.04.013.


Notch signaling has been implicated in many processes including cell fate determination and oncogenesis. In mice, the Notch1 and Notch4 genes are both targets for insertion and rearrangement by the mouse mammary tumor virus and these mutations promote epithelial mammary tumorigenesis. Moreover, expression of a constitutively active form of Notch4 in mammary epithelial cells inhibits epithelial differentiation and leads to tumor formation in this organ. These data implicate the Notch pathway in breast tumorigenesis and provide the foundation for future experiments that will aid in our understanding of the role of Notch in human breast cancer development. Here, we review studies of mammary tumorigenesis induced by Notch in mouse and in vitro culture models providing evidence that Notch activation is a causal factor in human breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Human / growth & development*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Signal Transduction


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptors, Notch