Pregnancy reprograms mammary epithelial cells (MECs) to control their responses to pregnancy hormone re-exposure and carcinoma progression. However, the influence of pregnancy on the mammary microenvironment is less clear. Here, we used single-cell RNA sequencing to profile the composition of epithelial and non-epithelial cells in mammary tissue from nulliparous and parous female mice. Our analysis indicates an expansion of γδ natural killer T-like immune cells (NKTs) following pregnancy and upregulation of immune signaling molecules in post-pregnancy MECs. We show that expansion of NKTs following pregnancy is due to elevated expression of the antigen-presenting molecule CD1d on MECs. Loss of CD1d expression on post-pregnancy MECs, or overall lack of activated NKTs, results in mammary oncogenesis. Collectively, our findings illustrate how pregnancy-induced changes modulate the communication between MECs and the immune microenvironment and establish a causal link between pregnancy, the immune microenvironment, and mammary oncogenesis.
Keywords: Brca1 KO; CD1d; NKT cells; mammary development; pregnancy.
Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.