Integrated extracellular matrix signaling in mammary gland development and breast cancer progression

Jieqing Zhu, Gaofeng Xiong, Christine Trinkle, Ren Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Extracellular matrix (ECM), a major component of the cellular microenvironment, plays critical roles in normal tissue morphogenesis and disease progression. Binding of ECM to membrane receptor proteins, such as integrin, discoidin domain receptors, and dystroglycan, elicits biochemical and biomechanical signals that control cellular architecture and gene expression. These ECM signals cooperate with growth factors and hormones to regulate cell migration, differentiation, and transformation. ECM signaling is tightly regulated during normal mammary gland development. Deposition and alignment of fibrillar collagens direct migration and invasion of mammary epithelial cells during branching morphogenesis. Basement membrane proteins are required for polarized acinar morphogenesis and milk protein expression. Deregulation of ECM proteins in the long run is sufficient to promote breast cancer development and progression. Recent studies demonstrate that the integrated biophysical and biochemical signals from ECM and soluble factors are crucial for normal mammary gland development as well as breast cancer progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1083-1092
Number of pages10
JournalHistology and Histopathology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Breast cancer progression
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Mammary gland development
  • Mechano-transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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