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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Apr 1, 1991; 88(7): 2648–2652.

The Ca2(+)-binding glycoprotein SPARC modulates cell cycle progression in bovine aortic endothelial cells.


SPARC (secreted protein, acidic and rich in cysteine) is an extracellular, Ca2(+)-binding protein associated with cellular populations undergoing migration, proliferation, and/or differentiation. Active preparations of SPARC bind to specific components of the extracellular matrix and cause mesenchymal cells to assume a rounded phenotype. In this study we show that SPARC modulates the progression of bovine aortic endothelial cells through the cell cycle. At a concentration of 20 micrograms/ml, SPARC inhibited the incorporation of [3H]thymidine into newly synthesized DNA by approximately 70%, as compared to control cultures within 24 hr after the release from G0 phase. The effect was dose-dependent and reached greater than 90% inhibition at 30 micrograms of SPARC per ml after 24 hr. A 20-residue synthetic peptide (termed 2.1) from a non-Ca2(+)-binding, disulfide-rich domain of SPARC also exhibited a dose-dependent inhibition of [3H]thymidine uptake in endothelial cells within 24 hr after release from G0 phase. An inhibition of 50% was seen with peptide 2.1 at a 0.4 mM concentration. Peptides from other regions of the SPARC protein did not produce this effect. Maximum inhibition of [3H]thymidine uptake by SPARC and peptide 2.1 occurred during the early-to-middle G1 phase of the endothelial-cell cycle. From 0-12 hr after release from G0 phase, cells exhibited delayed entry into S phase, which normally occurred at 24 +/- 2 hr. These results were further corroborated by flow cytometry. In the presence of SPARC at 20 micrograms/ml, 72% fewer cells were in S phase after a 24-hr period; a similar, but less marked, reduction was seen with peptide 2.1. Peptide 2.1 did not cause cell rounding, whereas peptide 1.1, a highly efficient inhibitor of endothelial-cell spreading, exhibited essentially no activity with respect to cell-cycle progression. It therefore appears that the transient, inhibitory effect of SPARC on the entry of endothelial cells into S phase does not depend on the overt changes in cell shape mediated through cytoskeletal rearrangement.

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