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J Biol Chem. 1996 Dec 13;271(50):31863-8.

Lactogenic hormone activation of Stat5 and transcription of the beta-casein gene in mammary epithelial cells is independent of p42 ERK2 mitogen-activated protein kinase activity.

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Friedrich Miescher Institute, P.O. Box 2543, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland.


HC11 mammary epithelial cells have been used to characterize molecular events involved in the regulation of milk protein gene expression. Treatment of HC11 cells with the lactogenic hormones prolactin, insulin, and glucocorticoids results in transcription of the beta-casein gene. Prolactin induces a signaling event which involves tyrosine phosphorylation of the mammary gland factor, Stat5, a member of the family of signal transducers and activators of transcription (Stat). Here we show that HC11 cells express two Stat5 proteins, Stat5a and Stat5b. Phosphopeptide and phosphoamino acid analysis of Stat5a and Stat5b immunoprecipitated from phosphate-labeled HC11 cells revealed that both proteins were constitutively phosphorylated on serine. Lactogenic hormone treatment resulted in the appearance of a tyrosine-phosphorylated peptide in both Stat5 proteins. Consistent with this observation, a Western blot analysis of Stat5a and Stat5b showed that lactogenic hormones induced a rapid, transient increase in phosphotyrosine which paralleled the binding of Stat5 to its cognate recognition sequence in the beta-casein gene promoter. Lactogenic hormone treatment of the HC11 cells also led to a rapid activation of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway. We examined the role of this pathway in beta-casein transcription using a specific MAP kinase kinase inhibitor, PD98059. Concentrations of PD98059 which completely abrogated lactogen-induced MAP kinase activation did not affect the phosphorylation state of Stat5, its DNA binding activity, or transcriptional activation of a beta-casein reporter construct. This indicates that the MAP kinase pathway does not contribute to lactogenic hormone induction of the beta-casein gene.

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