A rat mammary gland cancer cell with stem cell properties of self-renewal and multi-lineage differentiation

Cinzia Cocola, Sveva Sanzone, Simonetta Astigiano, Paride Pelucchi, Eleonora Piscitelli, Laura Vilardo, Ottavia Barbieri, Gloria Bertoli, Rolland A. Reinbold, Ileana Zucchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cancer stem cell hypothesis posits that tumors are derived from a single cancer-initiating cell with stem cell properties. The task of identifying and characterizing cancer-initiating cells with stem cell properties at the single cell level has proven technically difficult because of the scarcity of the cancer stem cells in the tissue of origin and the lack of specific markers for cancer stem cells. Here we show that a single LA7 cell, derived from rat mammary adenocarcinoma has: the ability to serially re-generate mammospheres in long-term non-adherent cultures, the differentiation potential to generate all the cell lineages of the mammary gland and branched duct-like structures that recapitulate morphologically and functionally the ductal-alveolar-like architecture of the mammary tree. The properties of self-renewal, extensive capacity for proliferation, multi-lineage differentiation and the tubular-like structure formation potential suggest that LA7 cells is a cancer stem model system to study the dynamics of tumor formation at the single cell level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-32
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008


  • Cancer stem cells
  • Epithelial markers
  • LA7 cell line
  • Mammary gland multi-lineage differentiation
  • Self-renewal
  • Three-dimensional differentiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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