Open Access Research article

Transgenic mice with mammary gland targeted expression of human cortactin do not develop (pre-malignant) breast tumors: studies in MMTV-cortactin and MMTV-cortactin/-cyclin D1 bitransgenic mice

Agnes GSH van Rossum12, Maaike PA van Bragt1, Ellen Schuuring-Scholtes1, Jan CM van der Ploeg1, Johan HJM van Krieken3, Philip M Kluin14 and Ed Schuuring14*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, Leiden University Medical Center, Albinusdreef 2, 2300 RC Leiden, The Netherlands

2 Division of Cellular Biochemistry, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 Department of Pathology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Geert Grooteplein-Zuid 10, 6500 HB, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

4 Department of Pathology, University Medical Center Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9700 RB, Groningen, The Netherlands

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BMC Cancer 2006, 6:58  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-58

Published: 14 March 2006



In human breast cancers, amplification of chromosome 11q13 correlates with lymph node metastasis and increased mortality. To date, two genes located within this amplicon, CCND1 and EMS1, were considered to act as oncogenes, because overexpression of both proteins, respectively cyclin D1 and cortactin, correlated well with 11q13 amplification. Cyclin D1 is involved in cell cycle regulation and the F-actin-binding protein cortactin in cytoskeletal dynamics and cell migration. To study the role of cortactin in mammary gland tumorigenesis, we examined mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV)-cortactin transgenic mice and MMTV-cortactin/-MMTV-cyclin D1 bitransgenic mice.


MMTV-cortactin transgenic mice were generated and intercrossed with previously described MMTV-cyclin D1 transgenic mice. Immunohistochemical, Northern and Western blot analyses were performed to study the expression of human transgene cortactin during mammary gland development and in mammary tumors. For tumor incidence studies, forced-bred, multiparous mice were used to enhance transgene expression in the mammary gland. Microscopical examination was performed using haematoxylin and eosin staining.


Mammary gland tumors arose stochastically (incidence 21%) with a mean age of onset at 100 weeks. This incidence, however, did not exceed that of aged-matched control FVB/N mice (38%), which unexpectedly, also developed spontaneous mammary gland tumors. We mimicked 11q13 amplification by generating MMTV-cortactin/-MMTV-cyclin D1 bitransgenic mice but did not observe any synergistic effect of cortactin on cyclin D1-induced mammary hyperplasias or carcinomas, nor development of distant metastasis.


From this study, we conclude that development of (pre-malignant) breast tumors in either wild type or MMTV-cyclin D1 mice was not augmented due to mammary gland targeted overexpression of human cortactin.