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Dormant Nfatc1 reporter-marked basal stem/progenitor cells contribute to mammary lobuloalveoli formation.


The Mammary gland undergoes complicated epithelial remodeling to form lobuloalveoli during pregnancy, in which basal epithelial cells remarkably increase to form a basket-like architecture. However, it remains largely unknown how dormant mammary basal stem/progenitor cells involve in lobuloalveolar development. Here, we show that Nfatc1 expression marks a rare population of mammary epithelial cells with the majority being basal epithelial cells. Nfatc1 reporter-marked basal epithelial cells are relatively dormant mammary stem/progenitor cells. Although Nfatc1 reporter-marked basal epithelial cells have limited contribution to the homeostasis of mammary epithelium, they divide rapidly during pregnancy and contribute to lobuloalveolar development. Furthermore, Nfatc1 reporter-marked basal epithelial cells are preferentially used for multiple pregnancies. Using single-cell RNA-seq analysis, we identify multiple functionally distinct clusters within the Nfatc1 reporter-marked cell-derived progeny cells during pregnancy. Taken together, our findings underscore Nfatc1 reporter-marked basal cells as dormant stem/progenitor cells that contribute to mammary lobuloalveolar development during pregnancy.

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