Modeling Breast Cancer via an Intraductal Injection of Cre-expressing Adenovirus into the Mouse Mammary Gland


Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease, possibly due to complex interactions between different cells of origins and oncogenic events. Mouse models are instrumental in gaining insights into these complex processes. Although many mouse models have been developed to study contributions of various oncogenic events and cells of origin to breast tumorigenesis, these models are often not cell-type or organ specific or cannot induce the initiation of mammary tumorigenesis in a temporally controlled manner. Here we describe a protocol to generate a new type of breast cancer mouse models based on the intraductal injection of Cre-expressing adenovirus (Ad-Cre) into mouse mammary glands (MGs). Due to the direct injection of Ad-Cre into mammary ducts, this approach is MG specific, without any unwanted cancer induction in other organs. The intraductal injection procedure can be performed in mice at different stages of their MG development (thus, it permits temporal control of cancer induction, starting from ~3-4 weeks of age). The cell-type specificity can be achieved by using different cell-type-specific promoters to drive Cre expression in the adenoviral vector. We show that luminal and basal mammary epithelial cells (MECs) can be tightly targeted for Cre/loxP-based genetic manipulation via an intraductal injection of Ad-Cre under the control of the Keratin 8 or Keratin 5 promoter, respectively. By incorporating a conditional Cre reporter (e.g., Cre/loxP-inducible Rosa26-YFP reporter), we show that MECs targeted by Ad-Cre, and tumor cells derived from them, can be traced by following the reporter-positive cells after intraductal injection.