Nitric oxide regulation of maspin expression in normal mammary epithelial and breast cancer cells

Zhila Khalkhali-Ellis*, Mary J.C. Hendrix

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


In this study, we examined the unique relationship of maspin, a serine protease inhibitor (serpin), that plays a critical role in mammary gland development and is silenced during breast cancer progression, and nitric oxide (NO), a multifaceted water and lipid soluble free radical. The hypothesis tested was that there is a correlation between endothelial nitric oxide synthase and maspin in MCF-7 cells and that NO is capable of regulating maspin expression. An experimental system was developed in which cellular levels of NO in normal human mammary epithelial cells and the breast cancer cell line MCF-7 could be altered using NO modulators. The effect(s) of NO modulators on maspin was measured using reverse transcriptasepolymerase chain reaction and Western blot analysis of subcellular fractions of both cell types. The data revealed that NO induced maspin expression in MCF-7 cells, and the induced maspin resulted in diminished cell motility and invasion, concomitant with an increase in the apoptotic index. This novel finding provides new information regarding the molecular role nmspin maspin in regulating mammary epithelial growth, remodeling, tumor progression, and the metastatic process. More significantly, these findings could have a potential impact on future therapeutic intervention strategies for breast cancer. Targeted delivery of NO within the tumor microenvironment could provide a feasible noninvasive approach for effective treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1411-1417
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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