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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Id-1, ITF-2, and Id-2 Comprise a Network of Helix-Loop-Helix Proteins That Regulate Mammary Epithelial Cell Proliferation, Differentiation, and Apoptosis*

  • Author(s): Parrinello, Simona;
  • Lin, Claudia Qiao;
  • Murata, Kenji;
  • Itahana, Yoko;
  • Singh, Jarnail;
  • Krtolica, Ana;
  • Campisi, Judith;
  • Desprez, Pierre-Yves
  • et al.

Mammary epithelial cells proliferate, invade the stroma, differentiate, and die in adult mammals by mechanisms that are poorly understood. We found that Id-1, an inhibitor of basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors, regulates mammary epithelial cell growth, differentiation, and invasion in culture. Here, we show that Id-1 is expressed highly during mammary development in virgin mice and during early pregnancy, when proliferation and invasion are high. During mid-pregnancy, Id-1 expression declined to undetectable levels as the epithelium differentiated fully. Surprisingly, Id-1 increased during involution, when the epithelium undergoes extensive apoptosis. To determine whether Id-1 regulates both proliferation and apoptosis, we constitutively expressed Id-1 in mammary epithelial cell cultures. Id-1 stimulated proliferation in sparse cultures but induced apoptosis in dense cultures, which reflect epithelial cell density during early pregnancy and involution, respectively. To understand how Id-1 acts, we screened a yeast two-hybrid library from differentiating mammary epithelial cells and identified ITF-2, a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor, as an Id-1-interacting protein. Overexpression of ITF-2 significantly reduced Id-1-stimulated proliferation and apoptosis. We show further that, in contrast to Id-1, Id-2 was expressed highly in differentiated mammary epithelial cells in vivo and in culture. In culture, Id-2 antisense transcripts blocked differentiation. Our results suggest that Id-1, ITF-2, and Id-2 comprise a network of interacting molecular switches that govern mammary epithelial cell phenotypes.

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