Extracellular Proteoglycan Decorin in Bovine Mammary Physiology

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Virginia Tech


The majority of bovine mammary gland research focuses on the main cell types - mammary epithelial cells and fibroblasts. However, the extracellular matrix (ECM) within the mammary gland is also of importance for its ability to regulate cell shape, proliferation, polarity, differentiation, gene transcription, protein synthesis, and secretion. Decorin is an ECM proteoglycan known to impact mammary cell proliferation in humans and rodents. Prior to this work, very little was known about decorin in bovine mammary biology. A series of bovine mammary cell culture experiments was conducted. The first experiment demonstrated existence of decorin pathway molecules in immortalized bovine mammary cells, but stopped short of demonstrating mature decorin proteoglycan deposition into the extracellular space. During the investigation it was noted that when cultured under basal conditions, intracellular decorin core protein (DCP) localization patterns appeared to be coordinated with specific phases of the cell cycle. Therefore, the objective of the second set of experiments was to characterize DCP localization patterns in bovine mammary epithelial cells (BME) at known phases of the cell cycle. The work was carried out in two sequential experiments. The hypothesis of the first experiment was that DCP accumulates in BME during S-phase of the cell cycle; the research rejected this hypothesis. The hypothesis of the second experiment, formulated after completion of the first experiment for this objective, was that DCP accumulates in BME during metaphase of the cell cycle. However, the experiment was unable to confirm of reject this hypothesis. Major findings were that both BME and mammary fibroblasts produce DCP and known decorin pathway molecules. BME produce intracellular DCP, but it is not accumulated during the S-phase of the cell cycle. However, it is still unknown if DCP is accumulated in BME during metaphase. Future research should focus on further characterization of decorin and its associated pathway molecules to learn if decorin induces proliferation or apoptosis of bovine mammary epithelial cells. This is important because number and activity of mammary epithelial cells ultimately determine milk yield in dairy cows. Fundamental knowledge gained in this research area may one day be applied at the animal-level and lead to gains in milk production efficiency by altering the cellular composition of mammary glands.



cell culture, fibroblast, mammary epithelial cell