Indexed on: 01 Jan '95Published on: 01 Jan '95Published in: Developmental genetics
Cardiac fatty acid binding protein (cFABP) is abundantly expressed in the nondividing, functionally differentiated mammary epithelium. It is very closely related, if not identical to, a previously described protein termed mammary derived growth inhibitor (MDGI). In vitro studies suggest that low concentrations of diffusible cFABP/MDGI may play a hormone-like role in limiting proliferative activity and promoting functional differentiation of this tissue, but no in vivo data to support this idea have been published. To test this hypothesis, we compared the levels of cFABP mRNA with both the epithelial DNA labelling index and levels of beta-casein mRNA in wild-type mice. We also investigated the effect of a precocious experimental increase of cFABP levels in the mammary gland of transgenic mice on the labelling index and beta-casein mRNA levels. This was accomplished by expressing a bovine cFABP cDNA under the control of the ovine beta-lactoglobulin (BLG) gene promoter. We found that although both the DNA labelling index, beta-casein mRNA levels, and cFABP mRNA levels in wild-type mice are developmentally regulated, they do not correlate with each other during early pregnancy in individual mice. Moreover, a three- to fourfold increase of total cFABP mRNA in two transgenic lines did not affect the DNA labelling index or the levels of beta-casein mRNA, an established marker of differentiation of the mammary epithelium, at this developmental stage. These data suggest that epithelial DNA synthesis, beta-casein gene expression, and expression of the cFABP gene are regulated independently in the proliferatively active mammary gland and that the rapidly dividing mammary epithelial cells are not susceptible to the action of cFABP during early pregnancy.