Open Access Open Badges Methodology article

Factors necessary to produce basoapical polarity in human glandular epithelium formed in conventional and high-throughput three-dimensional culture: example of the breast epithelium

Cedric Plachot1, Lesley S Chaboub1, Hibret A Adissu1, Lei Wang1, Albert Urazaev2, Jennifer Sturgis1, Elikplimi K Asem1 and Sophie A Lelièvre1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Basic Medical Sciences and Purdue Center for Cancer Research; Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA

2 Department of Biological Sciences; Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA

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BMC Biology 2009, 7:77  doi:10.1186/1741-7007-7-77

Published: 16 November 2009



Basoapical polarity in epithelia is critical for proper tissue function, and control of proliferation and survival. Cell culture models that recapitulate epithelial tissue architecture are invaluable to unravel developmental and disease mechanisms. Although factors important for the establishment of basal polarity have been identified, requirements for the formation of apical polarity in three-dimensional tissue structures have not been thoroughly investigated.


We demonstrate that the human mammary epithelial cell line-3522 S1, provides a resilient model for studying the formation of basoapical polarity in glandular structures. Testing three-dimensional culture systems that differ in composition and origin of substrata reveals that apical polarity is more sensitive to culture conditions than basal polarity. Using a new high-throughput culture method that produces basoapical polarity in glandular structures without a gel coat, we show that basal polarity-mediated signaling and collagen IV are both necessary for the development of apical polarity.


These results provide new insights into the role of the basement membrane, and especially collagen IV, in the development of the apical pole, a critical element of the architecture of glandular epithelia. Also, the high-throughput culture method developed in this study should open new avenues for high-content screening of agents that act on mammary tissue homeostasis and thus, on architectural changes involved in cancer development.