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Mammary lipid secretion: a reassessment.

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Wooding, FB Peter 


Mammary lipid secretion is generally held to be unique and remarkably uniform between the many different orders of mammals. It produces a unit membrane-bounded milk fat globule (MFG). The unit membrane is separated from the lipoprotein boundary of what was the cytoplasmic lipid droplet (CLD) boundary by a uniform layer of cytoplasmic proteins. In 3-8% of the MFG in all species examined this cytoplasmic layer widens to include cytoplasmic organelles which are referred to as 'crescents'. This defines the MFG secretion as apocrine indicating a closely regulated process which minimises the loss of mammary epithelial cell (MEC) cytoplasm. The apocrine nature of the secretion might be expected since the evolution of the mammary gland is considered to be from an apocrine secreting skin gland. This short Research Reflection review is designed to investigate the exact cytoplasmic interactions which allow such efficient lipid secretion. There are two main scenarios: one which assumes that the observed close association between CLD and GV results in the CLD being released as a consequence of sequential exocytosis of the content of the associated GV. The second assumes that the CLD and the MEC apical plasmalemma interact in some way which causes the CLD to rise out of the cytoplasm enveloped in the plasmalemma. Here I present the evidence for the two possibilities. The first scenario is favoured, but the second cannot be ruled out.



Apocrine secretion, Golgi vesicles, exocytosis, milk fat globule, milk lipid secretion

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J Dairy Res

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Cambridge University Press (CUP)