WNT signaling stimulates the self-renewal of many types of adult stem cells, including mammary stem cells (MaSCs), but mechanisms that limit this activity are poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that SLIT2 restricts stem cell renewal by signaling through ROBO2 in a subset of basal cells to negatively regulate WNT signaling. The absence of SLIT/ROBO2 signaling leads to increased levels of nuclear β-catenin. Robo2 loss does not increase the number of stem cells; instead, stem cell renewal is enhanced in the absence of SLIT/ROBO2 signaling. This is due to repressed expression of p16(INK4a), which, in turn, delays MaSC senescence. Together, our studies support a model in which SLITs restrict the expansion of MaSCs by countering the activity of WNTs and limiting self-renewal.
Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.