Involvement of Cathepsin D in Apoptosis of Mammary Epithelial Cells

  • Seol, M.B. (Major in Molecular Biotechnology, Biotechnology Research Institute Inst. of Ag. Sci. and Tech., Chonnam National University) ;
  • Bong, J.J. (Major in Molecular Biotechnology, Biotechnology Research Institute Inst. of Ag. Sci. and Tech., Chonnam National University) ;
  • Baik, M. (Major in Molecular Biotechnology, Biotechnology Research Institute Inst. of Ag. Sci. and Tech., Chonnam National University)
  • Received : 2006.01.17
  • Accepted : 2006.03.30
  • Published : 2006.08.01


During involution of the mammary gland after the lactation period, the gland undergoes an extensive epithelial cell death. In our previous study, overexpression of an extracellular proteinase inhibitor (Expi) gene accelerated apoptosis of mammary epithelial cells. Here we found that expression of the cathepsin D gene was induced in the Expi-overexpressed apoptotic cells. To understand the role of cathepsin D in apoptosis, we transfected cathepsin D gene into mammary epithelial HC11 cells and established the stable cell lines overexpressing the cathepsin D gene. We found that overexpression of the cathepsin D gene partially induced apoptosis of mammary epithelial cells. Expression patterns of the cathepsin D gene were examined in mouse mammary gland at various reproductive stages. Expression of the cathepsin D gene was increased during involution stages compared to lactation stages, and highest expression levels were shown at involution on day 4. We also examined expression of the cathepsin D gene in various mouse tissues. Mammary gland at involution on day 2 showed highest levels of cathepsin D mRNA of the mouse tissues that we examined. Liver tissues showed high levels of cathepsin D expression. These results demonstrate that cathepsin D may contribute to the apoptotic process of mammary epithelial cells.


Cathepsin D;Apoptosis;Mammary Epithelial Cells


Supported by : Chonnam National University


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