Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Notch receptor signaling pathways play an important role not only in normal breast development but also in breast cancer development and progression. We assessed the role of Notch receptors in stem cell activity in breast cancer cell lines and nine primary human tumor samples. Stem cells were enriched by selection of anoikis-resistant cells or cells expressing the membrane phenotype ESA(+)/CD44(+)/CD24(low). Using these breast cancer stem cell populations, we compared the activation status of Notch receptors with the status in luminally differentiated cells, and we evaluated the consequences of pathway inhibition in vitro and in vivo. We found that Notch4 signaling activity was 8-fold higher in stem cell-enriched cell populations compared with differentiated cells, whereas Notch1 signaling activity was 4-fold lower in the stem cell-enriched cell populations. Pharmacologic or genetic inhibition of Notch1 or Notch4 reduced stem cell activity in vitro and reduced tumor formation in vivo, but Notch4 inhibition produced a more robust effect with a complete inhibition of tumor initiation observed. Our findings suggest that Notch4-targeted therapies will be more effective than targeting Notch1 in suppressing breast cancer recurrence, as it is initiated by breast cancer stem cells.

Original publication




Journal article


Cancer res

Publication Date





709 - 718


Animals, Breast Neoplasms, CD24 Antigen, Cell Line, Tumor, Humans, Hyaluronan Receptors, Membrane Proteins, Mice, Mice, Knockout, Mice, Nude, Neoplastic Stem Cells, Proto-Oncogene Proteins, Receptor, Notch1, Receptor, Notch4, Receptors, Notch, Signal Transduction