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Cancer research

The caM kinase, Pnck, is spatially and temporally regulated during murine mammary gland development and may identify an epithelial cell subtype involved in breast cancer.


PMID 11034105

Abstract

While screening for protein kinases expressed in the murine mammary gland, we identified previously a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase, Pnck, that is most closely related to CaMKI. In this report, we show that Pnck is temporally regulated during murine mammary development with highest levels of expression observed late in pregnancy, concomitant with the decreased cellular proliferation and terminal differentiation of the mammary epithelium. Consistent with this finding, Pnck is up-regulated in confluent mammary epithelial cells and is down-regulated as serum-starved cells are stimulated to reenter the cell cycle. In the mammary gland, Pnck is expressed in an epithelial-specific and markedly heterogeneous manner, suggesting that the expression of this kinase may be restricted to a particular mammary epithelial cell type. Potentially related to its heterogeneous in vivo expression pattern, Pnck expression is oncogene-associated in murine epithelial cell lines derived from mammary tumors arising in different transgenic mouse models of breast cancer; cell lines derived from mammary tumors initiated by c-myc or int-2/Fgf3 express Pnck, whereas cell lines initiated by neu or H-ras do not. In an analogous manner, expression of the human homologue of Pnck is restricted to a subset of human breast cancer cell lines. Moreover, PNCK was found to be highly overexpressed in a subset of human primary human breast cancers compared with benign mammary tissue. Together, our data suggest that Pnck may play a role in mammary development, and that expression of this kinase may be restricted to a mammary epithelial cell type that is transformed in a subset of human breast cancers.