IGF1R constitutive activation expands luminal progenitors and influences lineage differentiation during breast tumorigenesis

Dev Biol. 2020 Jul 1;463(1):77-87. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2020.04.007. Epub 2020 May 4.


Breast tumors display tremendous heterogeneity in part due to varying molecular alterations, divergent cells of origin, and differentiation. Understanding where and how this heterogeneity develops is likely important for effective breast cancer eradication. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling is critical for normal mammary gland development and function, and has an established role in tumor development and resistance to therapy. Here we demonstrate that constitutive activation of the IGF1 receptor (IGF1R) influences lineage differentiation during mammary tumorigenesis. Transgenic IGF1R constitutive activation promotes tumors with mixed histologies, multiple cell lineages and an expanded bi-progenitor population. In these tumors, IGF1R expands the luminal-progenitor population while influencing myoepithelial differentiation. Mammary gland transplantation with IGF1R-infected mammary epithelial cells (MECs) resulted in hyperplastic, highly differentiated outgrowths and attenuated reconstitution. Restricting IGF1R constitutive activation to luminal versus myoepithelial lineage-sorted MECs resulted in ductal reconstitutions co-expressing high IGF1R levels in the opposite lineage of origin. Using in vitro models, IGF1R constitutively activated MCF10A cells showed increased mammosphere formation and CD44+/CD24-population, which was dependent upon Snail and NFκB signaling. These results suggest that IGF1R expands luminal progenitor populations while also stimulating myoepithelial cell differentiation. This ability to influence lineage differentiation may promote heterogeneous mammary tumors, and have implications for clinical treatment.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Differentiation; IGF1R; Lineages.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast / cytology
  • Breast / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Lineage / physiology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / cytology
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cells / cytology


  • IGF1 protein, human
  • IGF1R protein, human
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1