Newly characterized bovine mammary stromal region with epithelial properties supports representative epithelial outgrowth development from transplanted stem cells

Cell Tissue Res. 2021 Oct 26. doi: 10.1007/s00441-021-03545-1. Online ahead of print.


Limited outgrowth development of bovine mammary epithelial stem cells transplanted into de-epithelialized mouse fat pads restricts advanced studies on this productive organ's development and renewal. We challenged the mouse-bovine incompatibility by implanting parenchymal adjacent or distant bovine stromal layers (close and far stroma, respectively) into the mouse fat pad to serve as an endogenous niche for transplanted stem cells. The close stroma better supported stem cell take rate and outgrowth development. The diameter of these open duct-like structures represented and occasionally exceeded that of the endogenous ducts and appeared 8.3-fold wider than the capsule-like structures developed in the mouse fat pad after similar cell transplantation. RNA-Seq revealed lower complement activity in this layer, associated with secretion of specific laminins and WNT proteins favoring epithelial outgrowth development. The close stroma appeared genetically more similar to the parenchyma than to the far stroma due to epithelial characteristics, mainly of fibroblasts, including expression of epithelial markers, milk protein genes, and functional mammary claudins. Gene markers and activators of the mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition were highly enriched in the epithelial gene cluster and may contribute to the acquired epithelial properties of this stromal layer.

Keywords: Bovine; Mammary gland; Parenchyma; RNA sequencing; Stroma.