CLOCK regulates mammary epithelial cell growth and differentiation

Theresa Casey*, Jennifer Crodian, Aridany Suárez Trujillo, Emily Erickson, Bethany Weldon, Kristi Crow, Shelby Cummings, Yulu Chen, Avi Shamay, Sameer J. Mabjeesh, Karen Plaut

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Circadian clocks influence virtually all physiological processes, including lactation. Here, we investigate the role of the CLOCK gene in regulation of mammary epithelial cell growth and differentiation. Comparison of mammary morphology in late-pregnant wild-type and ClockΔ19 mice, showed that gland development was negatively impacted by genetic loss of a functional timing system. To understand whether these effects were due, in part, to loss of CLOCK function in the gland, the mouse mammary epithelial cell line, HC11, was transfected with short hairpin RNA that targeted Clock (shClock). Cells transfected with shClock expressed 70% less Clock mRNA than wild-type (WT) HC11 cultures, which resulted in significantly depressed levels of CLOCK protein (P < 0.05). HC11 lines carrying shClock had four-fold higher growth rates (P < 0.05), and the percentage of cells in G1 phase was significantly higher (90.1 ± 1.1% of shClock vs. 71.3 ± 3.6% of WT-HC11) following serum starvation. Quantitative-PCR (qPCR) analysis showed shClock had significant effects (P < 0.0001) on relative expression levels of Ccnd1, Wee1, and Tp63. qPCR analysis of the effect of shClock on Fasn and Cdh1 expression in undifferentiated cultures and cultures treated 96 h with dexamethasone, insulin, and prolactin (differentiated) found levels were reduced by twofold and threefold, respectively (P < 0.05), in shClock line relative to WT cultures. Abundance of CDH1 and TP63 proteins were significantly reduced in cultures transfected with shClock. These data support how CLOCK plays a role in regulation of epithelial cell growth and differentiation in the mammary gland.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)R1125-R1134
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 the American Physiological Society.


  • Circadian
  • Lactation
  • Mammary development


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