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BK Brar and PJ Lowry

We have carried out an investigation into the processing of the enkephalin-like immunoreactivity reported in breast tissue using two human breast tumour cell lines and a mouse tumour cell line. A 46 kDa form of proenkephalin (PE) has been observed in the cell lysates of two human breast tumour cell lines (MCF-7, ZR-75-1) and the mouse androgen-responsive Shionogi breast carcinoma cell line (SC115). PE processing in the cell lysates of these cells was assessed by a specific met-enkephalin RIA. The basal levels of processed PE in the MCF-7, ZR-75-1 and SC115 cell lysates were 30, 30 and 76% respectively. The processing enzymes PC1 and PC2, which have been implicated in the differential processing of PE, were detected by immunoblot analysis in these cells. PC1 was found within the cell extracts of all three cell lines. PC2 was only observed in the SC115 cell line, which may account for the higher percentage of processed PE measured. The cDNA of PC2 has been transfected into ZR-75-1 cells and this was accompanied by an increase in the level of processed PE from 30 to 76%. These breast tumour cell lines may provide a useful insight into the function of enkephalin-containing peptides in breast cancer.

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BK Brar, J Railson, A Stephanou, RA Knight and DS Latchman

We have previously demonstrated that urocortin protects cultured cardiac myocytes from ischaemic and reoxygenation injury and decreases the infarct size in the rat heart exposed to regional ischaemia and reperfusion. Urocortin-mediated cardioprotection is via activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAP kinase, MEK1/2) pathway. In addition, it is well documented that heat shock protein (hsp) 70 and hsp90 are cardioprotective against lethal stress. In this study we show, for the first time, that urocortin induces the expression of hsp90 but not hsp70 in primary cultures of rat neonatal cardiac myocytes. Levels of hsp90 protein increase by 1.5-fold over untreated cells within 10 min of urocortin treatment and are sustained for 24 h with a maximal increase of 2.5-fold at 60 min (P<0.05 at all time points). The increase in hsp90 expression by urocortin was not inhibited by actinomycin D, and urocortin failed to increase hsp90 promoter activity. Urocortin induction of hsp90 was inhibited by the MEK1/2 inhibitor PD98059 (P<0.001) and by cycloheximide, and both inhibitors abrogate urocortin-mediated cardioprotection (P<0.05 for cycloheximide, P<0.001 for PD98059). Hence, MEK1/2 and protein synthesis are involved in the cardioprotective effect of urocortin against hypoxic-mediated cell death, possibly due to an increase in expression of hsp90 protein. This is the first report of heat shock protein induction by urocortin or any other member of the corticotrophin-releasing hormone family.