Reference SummarySmith GH, Am J Pathol 1995 Oct;147(4):1081-96


Transforming growth factor-alpha promotes mammary tumorigenesis through selective survival and growth of secretory epithelial cells.


Smith GH; Sharp R; Kordon EC; Jhappan C; Merlino G


Am J Pathol










Transforming growth factor (TGF)-alpha stimulates the growth and development of mammary epithelial cells and is implicated in the pathogenesis of human breast cancer. In this report we evaluate the consequences of overexpressing TGF-alpha in the mammary gland of transgenic mice and examine associated cellular mechanisms. When operating on a FVB/N genetic background (line MT100), TGF-alpha induced the stochastic development of mammary adenomas and adenocarcinomas f secretory epithelial origin in 64% of multiparous females. In contrast, tumors were exceedingly rare in virgin MT100 females, MT100 males, and multiparous FVB/N females. In MT100 females multiple foci of hyperplastic secretory lesions preceded the development of frank tumors; these initial lesions appeared during the involution period after the first lactation. Serial transplantation of these hyperplasias indicated an absence of proliferative immortality. Nevertheless, they gave rise to tumors at a low frequency and after a prolonged latency in virgin hosts; in multiparous hosts, tumors developed earlier and at a high incidence. The TGF-alpha transgene was highly expressed in hyperplasias and tumors but not in virgin and nonlesion-bearing tissue, suggesting that TGF-alpha overexpression provides a selective growth advantage. TGF-alpha also induced at lactation a 6.4-fold increase in DNA synthesis in MT100 epithelial cells, many of which were binucleated. MT100 mammary tissue experienced an obvious delay in involution, resulting in the postlactational survival of a significant population of unregressed secretory epithelial cells. In contrast, another line of transgenic mice on a CD-1 genetic background (MT42), in which TGF-alpha overexpression induced liver but not mammary tumors, failed to demonstrate postlactational epithelial cell survival. These data show that TGF-alpha promotes mammary tumorigenesis in multiparous MT100 mice by stimulating secretory epithelial cell proliferation during lactation and prolonging survival during involution. These points support the notion that TGF-alpha can act as a mitogen and also as a differentiation factor in mammary epithelium.


J:72083 – MGI References
7573353 – National Library of Medicine/PubMed

Strain Notes

Strain Note
FVB/N-Tg(MtTGFA)100Lmb Expession of the transgene was not detected in virgin or other nontumorous mammary glands.


Strain Model Name Treatment Agent(s) Organ Affected Frequency Model Details
FVB/N-Tg(MtTGFA)100Lmb Mammary gland adenocarcinoma
  • (see notes)
Mammary gland

observed - 48

FVB/N-Tg(MtTGFA)100Lmb Mammary gland adenoma
  • (see notes)
Mammary gland

0 - 15

FVB/N-Tg(MtTGFA)100Lmb Mammary gland hyperplasia
  • (see notes)
Mammary gland


FVB/N Mammary gland tumor Mammary gland


CD-1-Tg(MtTGFA)42Lmb Mammary gland tumor Mammary gland