A progesterone-CXCR4 axis controls mammary progenitor cell fate in the adult gland

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Progesterone drives mammary stem and progenitor cell dynamics through paracrine mechanisms that are currently not well understood. Here, we demonstrate that CXCR4, the receptor for stromal-derived factor 1 (SDF-1; CXC12), is a crucial instructor of hormone-induced mammary stem and progenitor cell function. Progesterone elicits specific changes in the transcriptome of basal and luminal mammary epithelial populations, where CXCL12 and CXCR4 represent a putative ligand-receptor pair. In situ, CXCL12 localizes to progesterone-receptor-positive luminal cells, whereas CXCR4 is induced in both basal and luminal compartments in a progesterone-dependent manner. Pharmacological inhibition of CXCR4 signaling abrogates progesterone-directed expansion of basal (CD24+CD49fhi) and luminal (CD24+CD49flo) subsets. This is accompanied by a marked reduction in CD49b+SCA-1- luminal progenitors, their functional capacity, and lobuloalveologenesis. These findings uncover CXCL12 and CXCR4 as novel paracrine effectors of hormone signaling in the adult mammary gland, and present a new avenue for potentially targeting progenitor cell growth and malignant transformation in breast cancer.




Shiah, Y. J., Tharmapalan, P., Casey, A. E., Joshi, P. A., McKee, T. D., Jackson, H. W., … Khokha, R. (2015). A progesterone-CXCR4 axis controls mammary progenitor cell fate in the adult gland. Stem Cell Reports, 4(3), 313–322. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.stemcr.2015.01.011

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