Lipid droplet and milk lipid globule membrane associated placental protein 17b (PP17b) is involved in apoptotic and differentiation processes of human epithelial cervical carcinoma cells


  • Dedication: This work was performed under the inspiring guidance and careful supervision of the late Prof. Gabor Nandor Than, who passed away in March 31, 2002. All the authors and his colleagues dedicate this work to his memory.

N. G. Than, Department of Biochemistry and Medical Chemistry, University of Pecs, 12 Szigeti Street, Pecs H-7624, Hungary. Fax: +36 72 536 277, Tel.: +36 30 9512 026, E-mail:


The intracellular role of placental protein 17b (PP17b)/TIP47 has been controversial, because it is considered to be a protein required for mannose 6-phosphate receptor transport from endosome to trans-Golgi as well as a neutral lipid droplet-associated protein. The similarity between the amino acid sequences of PP17 variants, adipophilin and perilipins, and between their gene structures indicate that PP17b as well as other alternatively spliced PP17 variants belong to the lipid storage droplet protein family, containing also some differentiation factors. Using a specific antibody, PP17b was detected in lipid droplet fractions and co-localized with neutral lipid droplets stained by Nile red, and fluorescently labelled PP17 antibody in HeLa cells with confocal microscopy. PP17b was also detected in milk, associated to milk lipid globule membranes. Cytostatic agents induced apoptosis and PP17b synthesis in HeLa cells, which was significantly inhibited by protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor, indicating the involvement of NF-κB and AP-1 transcription factors in this process, while protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor had only a modest inhibitory effect. Cell differentiation induced by dibutyryl cyclic AMP or phorbol myristate acetate also increased PP17b synthesis, demonstrating its strong involvement in cell differentiation. PP17b synthesis was higher in M than in G0/G1 phases in control, apoptotic and differentiated cells. This data shows that PP17b is a neutral lipid droplet-associated protein, and its expression is regulated by PKC- and PKA-dependent pathways.