In ruminants, the molecular mechanisms regulating mammary involution and apoptosis (programmed cell death) are not well characterised, but extensive research in rodents has established that many cell types, including mammary epithelial cells, require anchorage to the extracellular matrix for survival. This anchorage is mediated via the integrins, a family of transmembrane glycoproteins that bridge intra- and extracellular compartments enabling direct communication between adaptor molecules in the cytoplasm and specific receptor motifs on the ECM proteins (Clark & Brugge, 1995; Giancotti & Ruoslahti, 1999; Hynes, 1992). Integrins form heterodimers between α and β subunits to produce more than 20 different receptors, and many subtypes have been identified in mammary glands (Clark & Brugge, 1995). We have shown previously that one such integrin, β1, is reduced rapidly as a result of induced weaning in rodents, and these changes are followed by apoptosis (McMahon et al., 2004). The aim of this study was to investigate the molecular mechanisms that may regulate mammary involution in the bovine by examining cell-matrix interactions that may be involved in survival of mammary epithelial cells, ultimately to improve lactational persistency and tolerance of extended milking intervals ...
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 64, Hamilton, 11-13, 2004
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