The long-term objective of my program has
been to develop and characterize a human mammary epithelial
cell (HMEC) system for use in a wide variety of studies
on human cell biology and carcinogenesis. The goal of our
laboratory has been to understand the normal growth control
processes in HMEC, and to determine how these processes
may be altered as a result of immortal and malignant transformation.
To address this goal, our work since 1976 has provided a well-characterized HMEC culture
system that has:
a) long-term active growth of finite lifespan
b) extended life cultures and immortally transformed
lines derived from normal HMEC exposed to chemical carcinogens,
oncogenes, p53 inactivation and/or hTERT;
c) malignant transformants of the cell lines
following exposure to specific oncogenes.
Detailed information on the derivation,
characterization, and methods for growth of these cells,
as well as information on how other labs may obtain these
cells, can be found on our web site: http://www.lbl.gov/~mrgs/mindex.html.
This work has been guided by the desire to facilitate widespread
use of human epithelial cells for molecular and cellular
biology studies. Therefore, the HMEC system is relatively
easy to use, can provide large quantities of uniform cell
populations, and is relatively well defined. However, trying
to balance the goal of making the system as amenable as
possible to widespread use, with the goal of trying to optimize
the system to reflect in vivo biology, has thus far resulted
in considerably less than ideal conditions for approximation
of in vivo biology.
Our laboratory’s long-term emphasis on extensive
development and characterization of one human epithelial
cell type has enabled us to gain a unique overview of human
cellular growth, aging, and transformation. Our studies
have now enabled us to produce a new model of the barriers
and alterations encountered by cultured normal finite lifespan
HMEC as they grow, senesce, overcome senescence barriers,
and gain immortality.
A summary of our most recent work can be found at our web site: http://www.lbl.gov/~mrgs/mindex.html