Cellular foundations of mammary tubulogenesis

Robert J. Huebner, Andrew J. Ewald

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The mammary gland is composed of a highly branched network of epithelial tubes, embedded within a complex stroma. The mammary epithelium originates during embryonic development from an epidermal placode. However, the majority of ductal elongation and bifurcation occurs postnatally, in response to steroid hormone and growth factor receptor signaling. The process of pubertal branching morphogenesis involves both elongation of the primary ducts across the length of the fat pad and a wave of secondary branching that elaborates the ductal network. Recent studies have revealed that mammary epithelial morphogenesis is accomplished by transitions between simple and stratified organization. During active morphogenesis, the epithelium is stratified, highly proliferative, has few intercellular junctions, and exhibits incomplete apico-basal polarity. In this review, we discuss recent advances in our understanding of the relationship between epithelial architecture, epithelial polarity, and ductal elongation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-131
Number of pages8
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Apico-basal polarity
  • Branching morphogenesis
  • Breast cancer
  • Collective cell migration
  • Mammary gland
  • Tubulogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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