Phoon YP, Chivukula IV, Tsoi YL, Kanatani S, Uhlén P, Kuiper R, Lendahl U
Exp. Cell Res. 395 (1) 112156 [2020-10-01; online 2020-07-22]
Hyperactivated Notch signalling has been implicated in breast cancer, but how elevated levels of Notch signalling contribute to mammary dysplasia and tumorigenesis is not fully understood. In this study, we express an activated form of Notch1 in the mouse mammary luminal lineage and analyse the consequences for tumour formation and the transcriptomic landscape in the luminal lineage. Simultaneous conditional activation of a Notch1 intracellular domain (Notch1 ICD) and EGFP in the luminal lineage was achieved by removal of a stop cassette by CRE-recombinase expression from the whey acidic protein (WAP) promoter. Mice in which Notch1 ICD was activated in the luminal lineage (WAP-CRE;R26-N1ICD mice) exhibit ductal hyperplasia after lactation with an increase in branching frequency and in the number of side-branch ends in the ductal tree. A subset of the mice developed mammary tumours and the majority of the tumour cells expressed EGFP (as a proxy for Notch1 ICD), indicating that the tumours originate from the Notch1 ICD-expressing cells. Single-cell transcriptome analysis of the EGFP-positive mammary cells identified six subtypes of luminal cells. The same six subtypes were found in control mice (WAP-CRE;R26-tdTomato mice expressing the tdTomato reporter from WAP-CRE-mediated activation), but the proportion of cells in the various subtypes differed between the WAP-CRE;R26-N1ICD and control WAP-CRE;R26-tdTomato mice. In conclusion, we show that Notch1 ICD expression in the luminal lineage produces a ductal hyperplasia and branching phenotype accompanied by altered luminal cell subtype partitioning.