Mammary epithelial cells of lactating rats express prolactin messenger ribonucleic acid

A. Kurtz, L. A. Bristol, B. E. Toth, E. Lazar-Wesley, L. Takacs, B. Kacsoh

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The presence of prolactin (PRL) mRNA in the mammary gland, placenta, and pituitary gland of lactating and pregnant rats was investigated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Polyadenylated RNA was prepared from total RNA samples by oligo(dT)-cellulose chromatography, and complementary cDNAs were synthesized. A standardized amount of cDNA from each sample was used as the template in a Taq PCR under high-stringency conditions. PCR amplified a signal with the predicted size of approximately 375 bp in mammary and pituitary glands of lactating and pregnant rats, and in placentae of pregnant rats. This band specifically hybridized with a probe overlapping the entire sequence of the mature rat (r) PRL mRNA in Southern blot analysis. When the rPRL-specific primers were used, PCR revealed no signal in the liver or in lactating mammary gland explants cultured in vitro for 48 h, while the same cDNA preparations gave strong signals for β-actin. The viability of the mammary gland explants was also suggested by their ability to secrete immunoreactive casein in vitro. PRL mRNA was localized in the epithelium of alveoli and ducts of the lactating mammary gland by in situ hybridization. These data provide evidence that the PRL gene is expressed in the mammary gland of pregnant and lactating rats, and suggest that the mammary gland might contribute to PRL in milk by de novo synthesis. Thus, while the placenta is an exogenous source of PRL-like activities for the fetus in utero, the mammary gland might take over this function after birth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1095-1103
Number of pages9
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology

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