Clonal characterization of mouse mammary luminal epithelial and myoepithelial cells separated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting

In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim. 1998 Oct;34(9):711-21. doi: 10.1007/s11626-998-0067-0.


Lineage analysis in vitro of heterogeneous tissues such as mammary epithelium requires the separation of constituent cell types and their growth as clones. The separation of virgin mouse mammary luminal epithelial and myoepithelial cells by fluorescence-activated cell-sorting, their growth at clonal density, and the phenotyping of the clones obtained with cell-type specific markers are described in this paper. Epithelial cells were isolated by collagenase digestion followed by trypsinization, and the luminal and myoepithelial cells were flow-sorted with the rat monoclonal antibodies 33A10 and JB6, respectively. Sorted cells were cloned under, using low oxygen conditions (<5% vol/vol), in medium containing cholera toxin and insulin, with an irradiated feeder layer of 3T3-L1 cells. Clones were characterized morphologically, and antigenically by multiple immunofluorescence with a panel of antibodies to cytoskeletal antigens specific to either luminal epithelial or myoepithelial cells in situ. Whereas sorted myoepithelial cells gave a single clone type, sorted luminal cells gave three morphological clone types, two of which grew rapidly. All myoepithelially derived clones showed a limited proliferative capacity in vitro, in contrast to their rat and human counterparts, as shown in previous studies. The present results with sorted mouse cells have also allowed the stability of the differentiated phenotype in mouse, rat, and human mammary luminal epithelial and myoepithelial cells in primary clonal culture to be compared. They show that the mouse mammary cells are the least stable in terms of expression of differentiation-specific cytoskeletal markers in vitro.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Animals
  • Cell Separation
  • Clone Cells*
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Muscles / cytology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats