In the lactating breast, the development of secretory alveoli consisting of differentiated cells arranged around a central lumen is dependent on signals from the extracellular environment of the cells. There are few cell lines that model this process. We previously showed that the human breast carcinoma line PMC42-LA can be induced to form organoids, reminiscent of secretory alveoli found in the lactating human breast. In this report, we used high-resolution scanning electron microscopy to show that the formation of organoids is accompanied by development of cell surface microvilli. Extracellular matrix–induced formation of microvilli occurred on the internal and external surfaces of cells in the organoids and not on surfaces in contact with the extracellular matrix. Organoid formation of PMC42-LA cells induced a rearrangement of the extracellular matrix, seen in the form of radiating fibers from the organoids. In summary, there is an interaction between PMC42-LA cells and the underlying extracellular matrix, which leads to the formation of polarized cells with well-developed microvilli. This is accompanied by organization of the extracellular matrix. PMC42-LA is a relevant model of the human breast for investigations into cell–cell and cell–matrix interactions.
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Vol. 39 • No. 10