Laminin alpha 5 regulates mammary gland remodeling through luminal cell differentiation and Wnt4-mediated epithelial crosstalk

Development. 2021 Jun 15;148(12):dev199281. doi: 10.1242/dev.199281. Epub 2021 Jun 15.


Epithelial attachment to the basement membrane (BM) is essential for mammary gland development, yet the exact roles of specific BM components remain unclear. Here, we show that Laminin α5 (Lama5) expression specifically in the luminal epithelial cells is necessary for normal mammary gland growth during puberty, and for alveologenesis during pregnancy. Lama5 loss in the keratin 8-expressing cells results in reduced frequency and differentiation of hormone receptor expressing (HR+) luminal cells. Consequently, Wnt4-mediated crosstalk between HR+ luminal cells and basal epithelial cells is compromised during gland remodeling, and results in defective epithelial growth. The effects of Lama5 deletion on gland growth and branching can be rescued by Wnt4 supplementation in the in vitro model of branching morphogenesis. Our results reveal a surprising role for BM-protein expression in the luminal mammary epithelial cells, and highlight the function of Lama5 in mammary gland remodeling and luminal differentiation.

Keywords: Basement membrane; Extracellular matrix; Laminin alpha 5; Luminal epithelial cell; Mammary gland; Wnt4.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Laminin / genetics*
  • Laminin / metabolism
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / embryology
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Morphogenesis / genetics
  • Organogenesis / genetics
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Wnt4 Protein / genetics*
  • Wnt4 Protein / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Laminin
  • Wnt4 Protein
  • Wnt4 protein, mouse
  • laminin alpha5