Following a highly dynamic and complex dialogue between the epithelium and the surrounding microenvironment, the mammary gland develops into a branching structure during puberty, buds during pregnancy, forms intricate polar acini during lactation and, once the babies are weaned, remodels and involutes. At every stage of menstrual and pregnancy cycles, interactions between the cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM) and homotypic and heterotypic cell-cell interactions give rise to the architecture and function of the gland at that junction. These orchestrated programs would not be possible without the important role of the ECM receptors, integrins being the prime examples. The ECM-integrin axis regulates many crucial cellular functions including survival, migration and quiescence; the imbalance in any of these processes could contribute to oncogenesis. In this review we spotlight the involvement of two prominent integrin subunits, β1 and β4 integrins, in cross-talk with tyrosine kinase receptors, and we discuss the roles of these integrin subunits in the biology of normal breast differentiation and as potential prognostic and therapeutic targets in breast cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research