Maintenance and induction of morphological differentiation in dissociated mammary epithelium on floating collagen membranes

In Vitro. 1977 May;13(5):316-28. doi: 10.1007/BF02616178.


Dissociated normal mammary epithelial cells from prelactating mice were plated on different substrates in various medium-serum-hormone combinations to find conditions that would permit maintenance of morphological differentiation. Cells cultured on floating collagen membranes in medium containing insulin, hydrocortisone and prolactin maintain differentiation through 1 month in culture. The surface cells form a continous epithelial pavement. Some epithelial cells below the surface layer rearrange themselves to form alveolus-like structures. Cells at both sites display surface polarization; microvilli and tight junctions are present at their medium-facing of luminal surface and a basal lamina separates the epithelial components from the gel and stromal cells. Occasional myoepithelial cells, characterized by myofilaments and plasmalemmmal vesicles, are identified at the basal surface of the secretory epithelium. In contrast, cells cultured on plastic, glass or collagen gels attached to Petri dishes form a confluent epithelial sheet showing surface polarization, but lose secretory and myoepithelial specializations. If these dedifferentiated cells are subsequently maintained on floating collagen membranes, they redifferentiate. There is little DNA synthesis in cells on collagen gels, in contrast to Petri-dish controls. Protein synthesis in cells on floating collagen membranes increases over TO values and remains constant through 7 days in culture whereas it decreases on attached gels; however, if the gels are freed to float, protein synthesis increases sharply and parallels that seen on floating membranes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Cells, Cultured*
  • Collagen
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / ultrastructure
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Golgi Apparatus / ultrastructure
  • Intercellular Junctions / ultrastructure
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / cytology*
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Protein Biosynthesis


  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Collagen
  • DNA