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PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e48601. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048601. Epub 2012 Nov 15.

Pregnancy is associated with decreased cardiac proteasome activity and oxidative stress in mice.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Division of Molecular Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA.


During pregnancy, the heart develops physiological hypertrophy. Proteasomal degradation has been shown to be altered in various models of pathological cardiac hypertrophy. Since the molecular signature of pregnancy-induced heart hypertrophy differs significantly from that of pathological heart hypertrophy, we investigated whether the cardiac proteasomal proteolytic pathway is affected by pregnancy in mice. We measured the proteasome activity, expression of proteasome subunits, ubiquitination levels and reactive oxygen production in the hearts of four groups of female mice: i) non pregnant (NP) at diestrus stage, ii) late pregnant (LP), iii) one day post-partum (PP1) and iv) 7 days post-partum (PP7). The activities of the 26 S proteasome subunits β1 (caspase-like), and β2 (trypsin-like) were significantly decreased in LP (β1∶83.26 ± 1.96%; β2∶74.74 ± 1.7%, normalized to NP) whereas β5 (chymotrypsin-like) activity was not altered by pregnancy but significantly decreased 1 day post-partum. Interestingly, all three proteolytic activities of the proteasome were restored to normal levels 7 days post-partum. The decrease in proteasome activity in LP was not due to the surge of estrogen as estrogen treatment of ovariectomized mice did not alter the 26 S proteasome activity. The transcript and protein levels of RPN2 and RPT4 (subunits of 19 S), β2 and α7 (subunits of 20 S) as well as PA28α and β5i (protein only) were not significantly different among the four groups. High resolution confocal microscopy revealed that nuclear localization of both core (20S) and RPT4 in LP is increased ∼2-fold and is fully reversed in PP7. Pregnancy was also associated with decreased production of reactive oxygen species and ubiquitinated protein levels, while the de-ubiquitination activity was not altered by pregnancy or parturition. These results indicate that late pregnancy is associated with decreased ubiquitin-proteasome proteolytic activity and oxidative stress.

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