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MicroRNA controls mammary gland development in mice
Date:11/9/2010

gland, which is also known as the milk gland, consists of the milk ducts and the surrounding connective tissue, which has a supportive and regulatory function. The connective tissue also appears to be the location where miR-212 and miR-132 are produced and intervene in the developmental process. Chowdhury and his colleague Ahmet Ucar were able to demonstrate with their experiments that this is the only place where the genes for these ribonucleic acid molecules are "switched on" in the breast tissue.

Molecular dimmer

According to the researcher's model, the microRNA molecules appear to control the production of a protein called MMP-9. "The microRNAs can down-regulate the production of MMP-9, like a dimmer switch," explains Ucar. If the microRNAs are missing, more MMP-9 proteins are produced and they accumulate near the milk ducts. They appear to activate a signalling pathway there, which prevents the normal growth of the milk ducts in the glandular tissue. "These tiny RNA molecules carry out their regulatory function by influencing the communication between the two tissues of the mammary gland," says Ucar. Other experiments now need to be carried out to examine whether these microRNAs also regulate breast development in humans. At the moment, the scientists can only speculate about what happens when the microRNAs do not function correctly. "Whether such malfunctions can lead to the formation of tumours, for example, is something that needs to be examined in further studies," says Chowdhury.


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Contact: Kamal Chowdhury
kchowdh@gwdg.de
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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