The mammary glands of pigs share many functional and morphological similarities with the breasts of humans, raising the potential of their utility for research into the mechanisms underlying normal mammary function and breast carcinogenesis. Here we sought to establish a model for the efficient manipulation and transformation of porcine mammary epithelial cells (pMEC) in vitro and tumor growth in vivo.
We utilized a vector encoding the red florescent protein tdTomato to transduce populations of pMEC from Yorkshire –Hampshire crossbred female pigs in vitro and in vivo. Populations of primary pMEC were then separated by FACS using markers to distinguish epithelial cells (CD140a-) from stromal cells (CD140a+), with or without further enrichment for basal and luminal progenitor cells (CD49f+). These separated pMEC populations were transduced by lentivirus encoding murine polyomavirus T antigens (Tag) and tdTomato and engrafted to orthotopic or ectopic sites in immunodeficient NOD.Cg-Prkdc
/SzJ (NSG) mice.
We demonstrated that lentivirus effectively transduces pMEC in vitro and in vivo. We further established that lentivirus can be used for oncogenic-transformation of pMEC ex vivo for generating mammary tumors in vivo. Oncogenic transformation was confirmed in vitro by anchorage-independent growth, increased cell proliferation, and expression of CDKN2A, cyclin A2 and p53 alongside decreased phosphorylation of Rb. Moreover, Tag-transformed CD140a- and CD140a-CD49f + pMECs developed site-specific tumors of differing histopathologies in vivo.
Herein we establish a model for the transduction and oncogenic transformation of pMEC. This is the first report describing a porcine model of mammary epithelial cell tumorigenesis that can be applied to the study of human breast cancers.||