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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Laminin signals initiate the reciprocal loop that informs breast-specific gene expression and homeostasis by activating NO, p53 and microRNAs.


How mammalian tissues maintain their architecture and tissue-specificity is poorly understood. Previously, we documented both the indispensable role of the extracellular matrix (ECM) protein, laminin-111 (LN1), in the formation of normal breast acini, and the phenotypic reversion of cancer cells to acini-like structures in 3-dimensional (3D) gels with inhibitors of oncogenic pathways. Here, we asked how laminin (LN) proteins integrate the signaling pathways necessary for morphogenesis. We report a surprising reciprocal circuitry comprising positive players: laminin-5 (LN5), nitric oxide (NO), p53, HOXD10 and three microRNAs (miRNAs) - that are involved in the formation of mammary acini in 3D. Significantly, cancer cells on either 2-dimensional (2D) or 3D and non-malignant cells on 2D plastic do not produce NO and upregulate negative players: NFκB, EIF5A2, SCA1 and MMP-9 - that disrupt the network. Introducing exogenous NO, LN5 or individual miRNAs to cancer cells reintegrates these pathways and induces phenotypic reversion in 3D. These findings uncover the essential elements of breast epithelial architecture, where the balance between positive- and negative-players leads to homeostasis.

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