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BMC Cell Biol. 2010 Apr 30;11:30. doi: 10.1186/1471-2121-11-30.

Bomapin is a redox-sensitive nuclear serpin that affects responsiveness of myeloid progenitor cells to growth environment.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.



Haematopoiesis is a process of formation of mature blood cells from hematopoietic progenitors in bone marrow. Haematopoietic progenitors are stimulated by growth factors and cytokines to proliferate and differentiate, and they die via apoptosis when these factors are depleted. An aberrant response to growth environment may lead to haematological disorders. Bomapin (serpinb10) is a hematopoietic- and myeloid leukaemia-specific protease inhibitor with unknown function.


We found that the majority of naturally expressed bomapin was located in the nucleus. Both the natural and recombinant bomapin had a disulfide bond which linked the only two bomapin cysteines: one located in the CD-loop and the other near the C-terminus. Computer modelling showed that the cysteines are distant in the reduced bomapin, but can easily be disulfide-linked without distortion of the overall bomapin structure. Low-level ectopic expression of bomapin in bomapin-deficient K562 cells resulted in about 90% increased cell proliferation under normal growth conditions. On the other hand, antisense-downregulation of natural bomapin in U937 cells resulted in a decreased cell proliferation. Bomapin C395S mutant, representing the reduced form of the serpin, had no effect on cell proliferation, suggesting that the disulfide bond-linked conformation of bomapin is biologically important. The bomapin-dependent effect was specific for myeloid cells, since ectopic expression of the serpin in HT1080 cells did not change cell proliferation. In contrast to the survival-promoting activity of bomapin in cells cultured under optimal growth conditions, bomapin enhanced cell apoptosis following growth factor withdrawal.


We propose that bomapin is a redox-sensitive nuclear serpin that augments proliferation or apoptosis of leukaemia cells, depending on growth factors availability.

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