Aberrantly high expression of the CUB and zona pellucida-like domain-containing protein 1 (CUZD1) in mammary epithelium leads to breast tumorigenesis

Janelle Mapes, Lavanya Anandan, Quanxi Li, Alison Neff, Charles V. Clevenger, Indrani C. Bagchi, Milan K. Bagchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The peptide hormone prolactin (PRL) and certain members of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family play central roles in mammary gland development and physiology, and their dysregulation has been implicated in mammary tumorigenesis. Our recent studies have revealed that the CUB and zona pellucidalike domain-containing protein 1 (CUZD1) is a critical factor for PRL-mediated activation of the transcription factor STAT5 in mouse mammary epithelium. Of note, CUZD1 controls production of a specific subset of the EGF family growth factors and consequent activation of their receptors. Here, we found that consistent with this finding, CUZD1 overexpression in nontransformed mammary epithelial HC11 cells increases their proliferation and induces tumorigenic characteristics in these cells. When introduced orthotopically in mouse mammary glands, these cells formed adenocarcinomas, exhibiting elevated levels of STAT5 phosphorylation and activation of the EGF signaling pathway. Selective blockade of STAT5 phosphorylation by pimozide, a small-molecule inhibitor, markedly reduced the production of the EGF family growth factors and inhibited PRLinduced tumor cell proliferation in vitro. Pimozide administration to mice also suppressed CUZD1-driven mammary tumorigenesis in vivo. Analysis of human MCF7 breast cancer cells indicated that CUZD1 controls the production of the same subset of EGF family members in these cells as in the mouse. Moreover, pimozide treatment reduced the proliferation of these cancer cells. Collectively, these findings indicate that overexpression of CUZD1, a regulator of growth factor pathways controlled by PRL and STAT5, promotes mammary tumorigenesis. Blockade of the STAT5 signaling pathway downstream of CUZD1 may offer a therapeutic strategy for managing these breast tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2850-2864
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 23 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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