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Mammary mechanobiology - investigating roles for mechanically activated ion channels in lactation and involution.

Journal of cell science (2020-12-03)
Teneale A Stewart, Katherine Hughes, Alexander J Stevenson, Natascia Marino, Adler L Ju, Michael Morehead, Felicity M Davis
ABSTRACT

The ability of a mother to produce a nutritionally complete neonatal food source has provided a powerful evolutionary advantage to mammals. Milk production by mammary epithelial cells is adaptive, its release is exquisitely timed, and its own glandular stagnation with the permanent cessation of suckling triggers the cell death and tissue remodeling that enables female mammals to nurse successive progeny. Chemical and mechanical signals both play a role in this process. However, despite this duality of input, much remains unknown about the nature and function of mechanical forces in this organ. Here, we characterize the force landscape in the functionally mature gland and the capacity of luminal and basal cells to experience and exert force. We explore molecular instruments for force-sensing, in particular channel-mediated mechanotransduction, revealing increased expression of Piezo1 in mammary tissue in lactation and confirming functional expression in luminal cells. We also reveal, however, that lactation and involution proceed normally in mice with luminal-specific Piezo1 deletion. These findings support a multifaceted system of chemical and mechanical sensing in the mammary gland, and a protective redundancy that ensures continued lactational competence and offspring survival.

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