LMO4 belongs to a family of LIM-only transcriptional regulators, the first two members of which are oncoproteins in acute T cell leukemia. We have explored a role for LMO4, initially described as a human breast tumor autoantigen, in developing mammary epithelium and breast oncogenesis. Lmo4 was expressed predominantly in the lobuloalveoli of the mammary gland during pregnancy. Consistent with a role in proliferation, forced expression of this gene inhibited differentiation of mammary epithelial cells. Overexpression of LMO4 mRNA was observed in 5 of 10 human breast cancer cell lines. Moreover, in situ hybridization analysis of 177 primary invasive breast carcinomas revealed overexpression of LMO4 in 56% of specimens. Immunohistochemistry confirmed overexpression in a high percentage (62%) of tumors. These studies imply a role for LMO4 in maintaining proliferation of mammary epithelium and suggest that deregulation of this gene may contribute to breast tumorigenesis.
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