A role for the cytoskeleton in prolactin-dependent mammary epithelial cell differentiation

Ghada S. Zoubiane, Anthony Valentijn, Emma T. Lowe, Nasreen Akhtar, Steve Bagley, Andrew P. Gilmore, Charles H. Streuli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The function of exocrine glands depends on signals within the extracellular environment. In the mammary gland, integrin-mediated adhesion to the extracellular matrix protein laminin co-operates with soluble factors such as prolactin to regulate tissue-specific gene expression. The mechanism of matrix and prolactin crosstalk and the activation of downstream signals are not fully understood. Because integrins organize the cytoskeleton, we analysed the contribution of the cytoskeleton to prolactin receptor activation and the resultant stimulation of milk protein gene expression. We show that the proximal signalling events initiated by prolactin (i.e. tyrosine phosphorylation of receptor and the associated kinase Jak2) do not depend on an intact actin cytoskeleton. However, actin networks and microtubules are both necessary for continued mammary cell differentiation, because cytoskeletal integrity is required to transduce the signals between prolactin receptor and Stat5, a transcription factor necessary for milk protein gene transcription. The two different cytoskeletal scaffolds regulate prolactin signalling through separate mechanisms that are specific to cellular differentiation but do not affect the general profile of protein synthesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-280
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2004


  • Colchicine
  • Cytochalasin D
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Mammary epithelial differentiation
  • Microtubules
  • Prolactin


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