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AM Corbacho, G Martinez De La Escalera, and C Clapp

Prolactin, growth hormone and placental lactogen are members of a family of polypeptide hormones which share structural similarities and biological activities. Numerous functions have been attributed to these hormones, among which stand out their recently discovered effects on angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels are formed from the pre-existing microvasculature. Prolactin, growth hormone and placental lactogen, along with two non-classical members of the family, proliferin and proliferin-related protein, can act both as circulating hormones and as paracrine/autocrine factors to either stimulate or inhibit various stages of the formation and remodeling of new blood vessels, including endothelial cell proliferation, migration, protease production and apoptosis. Such opposing actions can reside in similar but independent molecules, as is the case of proliferin and proliferin-related protein, which stimulate and inhibit angiogenesis respectively. The potential to exert opposing effects on angiogenesis can also reside within the same molecule as the parent protein can promote angiogenesis (i.e. prolactin, growth hormone and placental lactogen), but after proteolytic processing the resulting peptide fragment acquires anti-angiogenic properties (i.e. 16 kDa prolactin, 16 kDa growth hormone and 16 kDa placental lactogen). The unique properties of the peptide fragments versus the full-length molecules, the regulation of the protease responsible for specific protein cleavage, the selective expression of specific receptors and their associated signal transduction pathways are issues that are being investigated to further establish the precise contribution of these hormones to angiogenesis under both physiological and pathological situations. In this review article, we summarize the known and speculative issues underlying the effects of the prolactin, growth hormone and placental lactogen family of proteins on angiogenesis, and address important remaining enigmas in this field of research.

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AM Corbacho, Y Macotela, G Nava, L Torner, Z Duenas, G Noris, MA Morales, G Martinez De La Escalera, and C Clapp

Members of the prolactin (PRL) hormonal family have direct effects on endothelial cell proliferation, migration and tube formation. Moreover, isoforms of PRL may function as autocrine regulators of endothelial cells. Bovine brain capillary endothelial cells (BBCEC) express the PRL gene, while anti-PRL antibodies inhibit BBCEC proliferation. Here, we show the expression of the PRL gene into various PRL isoforms in endothelial cells from the human umbilical vein. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction of total RNA from human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) detected the full-length PRL mRNA as well as a 100 bp smaller PRL transcript similar to the one previously reported in BBCEC. HUVEC were positive to PRL immunocytochemistry. In addition, various PRL immunoreactive proteins were detected in HUVEC extracts and HUVEC conditioned media by metabolic labelling immunoprecipitation analysis. These PRL immunorelated proteins had apparent molecular masses of 60, 23, 21, 16 and 14 kDa. In contrast to previous findings in BBCEC, HUVEC conditioned media contained very little PRL bioactivity as determined by the selective bioassay of Nb2 cell proliferation. Moreover, some polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies directed against PRL stimulated HUVEC proliferation, in contrast to the inhibitory effect seen in BBCEC. The present findings extend the previous observations about the expression of PRL gene in endothelial cells from bovine brain capillaries to human cells of the umbilical vein, implicating that endothelium from different types of vessels and species share the expression of PRL gene but may differ in the putative autocrine role of the PRL isoforms expressed.

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Y Macotela, C Mendoza, AM Corbacho, G Cosio, JP Eiserich, A Zentella, G Martinez de la Escalera, and C Clapp

The amino-terminal 16 kDa fragment of prolactin (16K PRL) promotes the expression of the inducible isoform of nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) accompanied by the production of nitric oxide (NO) by rat pulmonary fibroblasts. The present study was designed to elucidate whether the mechanism by which 16K PRL promotes iNOS expression involves the activation of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB), a key transcription factor for iNOS induction. 16K PRL stimulated DNA-binding activity of NF-kappaB in pulmonary fibroblasts as demonstrated by gel shift assays. Likewise, fluorescence immunocytochemistry showed that 16K PRL promotes nuclear translocation of the p65 subunit of NF-kappaB. Finally, treatment with 16K PRL induced the degradation of the NF-kappaB inhibitor kappaB-beta (IkappaB-beta), and such degradation was prevented by blocking IkappaB-beta phosphorylation. Altogether, these results show that 16K PRL activates NF-kappaB nuclear translocation via the phosphorylation and degradation of IkappaB-beta. These findings are consistent with NF-kappaB being part of the signal transduction pathway activated by 16K PRL to induce iNOS expression.