The Transcriptome of Estrogen-Independent Mammary Growth in Female Mice Reveals That Not All Mammary Glands Are Created Equally

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Allometric growth of ducts in the mammary glands (MGs) is widely held to be estrogen dependent. We previously discovered that the dietary fatty acid trans-10, cis-12 conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) stimulates estrogen-independent allometric growth and terminal end bud formation in ovariectomized mice. Given the similar phenotype induced by estrogen and CLA, we investigated the shared and/or divergent mechanisms underlying these changes. We confirmed MG growth induced by CLA is temporally distinct from that elicited by estrogen. We then used RNA sequencing to compare the transcriptome of the MG during similar proliferative and morphological states. Both estrogen and CLA affected the genes involved in proliferation. The transcriptome for estrogen-treated mice included canonical estrogen-induced genes, including Pgr, Areg, and Foxa1. In contrast, their expression was unchanged by CLA. However, CLA, but not estrogen, altered expression of a unique set of inflammation-associated genes, consistent with stromal changes. This CLA-altered signature included increased expression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway components, consistent with the demonstration that CLA-induced MG growth is EGFR dependent. Our findings highlight a unique role for diet-induced inflammation that underlies estrogen-independent MG development.

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