The role of prolactin receptor in GH signaling in breast cancer cells

Jie Xu, Dongmei Sun, Jing Jiang, Luqin Deng, Yue Zhang, Hao Yu, Deepti Bahl, John F. Langenheim, Wen Y. Chen, Serge Y. Fuchs, Stuart J. Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


GH and prolactin (PRL) are structurally related hormones that exert important effects in disparate target tissues. Their receptors (GHR and PRLR) reside in the cytokine receptor superfamily and share signaling pathways. In humans, GH binds both GHR and PRLR, whereas PRL binds only PRLR. Both hormones and their receptors may be relevant in certain human and rodent cancers, including breast cancer. GH and PRL promote signaling in human T47D breast cancer cells that express both GHR and PRLR. Furthermore, GHR and PRLR associate in a fashion augmented acutely by GH, even though GH primarily activates PRLR, rather than GHR, in these cells. To better understand PRLR's impact, we examined the effects of PRLR knockdown on GHR availability and GH sensitivity in T47D cells. T47D-ShPRLR cells, in which PRLR expression was reduced by stable short hairpin RNA (shRNA) expression, were compared with T47D-SCR control cells. PRLR knockdown decreased the rate of GHR proteolytic turnover, yielding GHR protein increase and ensuing sensitization of these cells to GHR signaling events including phosphorylation of GHR, Janus kinase 2, and signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5). Unlike in T47D-SCR cells, acute GH signaling in T47D-ShPRLR cells was not blocked by the PRLR antagonist G129R but was inhibited by the GHR-specific antagonist, anti-GHRext-mAb. Thus, GH's use of GHR rather than PRLR was manifested when PRLR was reduced. In contrast to acute effects, GH incubation for 2 h or longer yielded diminished STAT5 phosphorylation in T47D-ShPRLR cells compared with T47D-SCR, a finding perhaps explained by markedly greater GH-induced GHR down-regulation in cells with diminished PRLR. However, when stimulated with repeated 1-h pulses of GH separated by 3-h washout periods to more faithfully mimic physiological GH pulsatility, T47D-ShPRLR cells exhibited greater transactivation of a STAT5-responsive luciferase reporter than did T47D-SCR cells. Our data suggest that PRLR's presence meaningfully affects GHR use in breast cancer cells

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-279
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology

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  • Cite this

    Xu, J., Sun, D., Jiang, J., Deng, L., Zhang, Y., Yu, H., Bahl, D., Langenheim, J. F., Chen, W. Y., Fuchs, S. Y., & Frank, S. J. (2013). The role of prolactin receptor in GH signaling in breast cancer cells. Molecular Endocrinology, 27(2), 266-279.