Background: The Tientsin Albino 2 (TA2) mouse is an inbred strain originating from the Kunming strain. It has a high incidence of spontaneous breast cancer without the need for external inducers or carcinogens. Until now, the mechanism of carcinogenesis has remained unclear. In this study, we investigate differential gene expression, especially the expression of decorin, EGFR and cyclin D1, during mammary gland epithelial cell carcinogenesis in TA2 mice.
Methods: Gene expression profiles of spontaneous breast cancer and matched normal mammary gland tissues in TA2 mice were ascertained using an Affymetrix Mouse 430 2.0 array. Twelve mammary tissue samples from five month-old female TA2 mice (Group A), as well as 28 samples from mammary (Group B) and cancer tissues (Group C) of spontaneous breast cancer-bearing TA2 mice, were subsequently used to detect the expression of decorin, EGFR and cyclin D1 by real-time PCR and immunohistochemical methods.
Results: Several imprinted genes, oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes were differentially expressed between normal mammary gland tissues and breast cancer tissues of TA2 mice. The imprinted gene decorin and the oncogene EGFR were down-regulated in tumor tissues, while the oncogene cyclin D1 was up-regulated. Immunohistochemistry showed that samples in Group A showed high decorin expression more frequently than those in Group B (P < 0.05). More tissue samples in Group B than Group A were positive for nuclear EGFR, and tissue samples in Group B more frequently showed high nuclear EGFR expression than those in Group A or Group C (P < 0.05). The labeling index for cyclin D1 in Group C was significantly higher than in Group B. Mammary tissues of Group A expressed the highest level of decorin mRNA (P < 0.05), and mammary tissues of Group B expressed the highest level of EGFR mRNA (P < 0.05), while cancer tissues expressed the highest level of cyclin D1 mRNA (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: The expression of decorin, EGFR and cyclin D1 in mammary epithelial cells changes with increasing age. The abnormal expression of them may partly contribute to the genesis of spontaneous breast cancer in TA2 mice.