The requirement of integrins for breast epithelial proliferation

Paulina Moreno Layseca, Ahmet Ucar, Heyuan Sun, Amber Wood, Safiah Olabi, Andrew Gilmore, Keith Brennan, Charles Streuli

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Epithelial cells forming mammary gland ducts and alveoli require adhesion to the extracellular matrix for their function. Mammary epithelial cells need β1-integrins for normal cell cycle regulation. However, the role of β1-integrins in tumorigenesis has not been fully resolved. β1-integrin is necessary for tumour formation in transgenic mice expressing the Polyomavirus Middle T antigen, but it is dispensable in those overexpressing ErbB2. This suggests that some oncogenes can manage without β1-integrin to proliferate and form tumours, while others still require it. Here we have developed a model to test whether expression of an oncogene can surpass the need for β1-integrin to drive proliferation. We coexpressed the ErbB2 or Akt oncogenes with shRNA to target β1-integrin in mammary epithelial cells, and found that they show a differential dependence on β1-integrin for cell division. Moreover, we identified a key proliferative role of the Rac1-Pak axis downstream of β1-integrin signalling. Our data suggest that, in mammary epithelial cells, oncogenes with the ability to signal to Pak surpass the requirement of integrins for malignant transformation. This highlights the importance of using the correct combination therapy for breast cancer, depending on the oncogenes expressed in the tumour.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean journal of cell biology
Early online date14 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Beta1-integrin
  • mammary epithelial cells
  • proliferation
  • oncogenes


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