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Endocrinology. 2008 Oct;149(10):4821-8. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-0145. Epub 2008 Jun 5.

Prolactin and estrogen up-regulate carboxypeptidase-d to promote nitric oxide production and survival of mcf-7 breast cancer cells.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 1X5.


Carboxypeptidase-D (CPD) and carboxypeptidase-M (CPM) release C-terminal arginine (Arg) from polypeptides, and both are present in the plasma membrane. Cell-surface CPD increases intracellular Arg, which is converted to nitric oxide (NO). We have reported that prolactin (PRL) regulated CPD mRNA levels in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. This study examined PRL/17beta-estradiol (E2) regulation of CPD/CPM expression, and the role of CPD in NO production for survival of MCF-7 cells. We showed that PRL or E2 up-regulated CPD mRNA and protein expression. PRL/E2 increased CPD mRNA levels by 3- to 5-fold but had no effect on CPM. In Arg-free DMEM, exogenous L-Arg or substrate furylacryloyl-Ala-Arg (Fa-Ala-Arg) increased NO levels and cell survival, measured using 4,5-diaminofluorescein diacetate and the MTS assay, respectively. In the presence of Fa-Ala-Arg, NO production was enhanced by PRL and/or E2 but inhibited by CPD/CPM-specific inhibitor, 2-mercaptomethyl-3-guanidinoethylthio-propanoic acid (MGTA). MGTA also decreased MCF-7 cell survival. In Arg-free medium, annexin-V staining showed that apoptotic MCF-7 cells (approximately 60%) were rescued by Fa-Ala-Arg (25%) or diethylamine/NO (10%). Finally, CPD or CPM gene expression was knocked down with small interfering (si) CPD or siCPM, respectively, with nontargeting siNT as controls. In Arg-free DMEM, the stimulatory effect of Fa-Ala-Arg on NO production was inhibited by siCPD only, showing that CPD depletion inhibited Fa-Ala-Arg cleavage. Furthermore, more than 60% of siCPD-transfectants were apoptotic, and L-Arg, not Fa-Ala-Arg, significantly decreased apoptosis to 32% (P<or=0.05). Thus, CPD gene knockdown did not affect L-Arg uptake, which protected cells from apoptosis. In summary, PRL/E2-induced cell-surface CPD released Arg from extracellular substrates, increased intracellular NO, promoted survival and inhibited apoptosis of MCF-7 cells.

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