Mammary-Stem-Cell-Based Somatic Mouse Models Reveal Breast Cancer Drivers Causing Cell Fate Dysregulation

Zheng Zhang, John R. Christin, Chunhui Wang, Kai Ge, Maja H. Oktay, Wenjun Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Cancer genomics has provided an unprecedented opportunity for understanding genetic causes of human cancer. However, distinguishing which mutations are functionally relevant to cancer pathogenesis remains a major challenge. We describe here a mammary stem cell (MaSC) organoid-based approach for rapid generation of somatic genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs). By using RNAi and CRISPR-mediated genome engineering in MaSC-GEMMs, we have discovered that inactivation of Ptpn22 or Mll3, two genes mutated in human breast cancer, greatly accelerated PI3K-driven mammary tumorigenesis. Using these tumor models, we have also identified genetic alterations promoting tumor metastasis and causing resistance to PI3K-targeted therapy. Both Ptpn22 and Mll3 inactivation resulted in disruption of mammary gland differentiation and an increase in stem cell activity. Mechanistically, Mll3 deletion enhanced stem cell activity through activation of the HIF pathway. Thus, our study has established a robust in vivo platform for functional cancer genomics and has discovered functional breast cancer mutations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3146-3156
Number of pages11
JournalCell Reports
Issue number12
StatePublished - Sep 20 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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