Prevalent overexpression of prolyl isomerase Pin1 in human cancers

Am J Pathol. 2004 May;164(5):1727-37. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)63731-5.


Phosphorylation of proteins on serine or threonine residues preceding proline (pSer/Thr-Pro) is a major regulatory mechanism in cell proliferation and transformation. Interestingly, the pSer/Thr-Pro motifs in proteins exist in two distinct cis and trans conformations, whose conversion rate is normally reduced on phosphorylation, but is catalyzed specifically by the prolyl isomerase Pin1. Pin1 can catalytically induce conformational changes in proteins after phosphorylation, thereby having profound effects on catalytic activity, dephosphorylation, protein-protein interactions, subcellular location, and/or turnover of certain phosphorylated proteins. Recently, it has been shown that Pin1 is overexpressed in human breast cancer cell lines and cancer tissues and plays a critical role in the transformation of mammary epithelial cells by activating multiple oncogenic pathways. Furthermore, Pin1 expression is an excellent independent prognostic marker in prostate cancer. However, little is known about Pin1 expression in other human normal and cancerous tissues. In the present study, we quantified Pin1 expression in 2041 human tumor samples and 609 normal tissue samples as well as normal and transformed human cell lines. We found that Pin1 was usually expressed at very low levels in most normal tissues and its expression was normally associated with cell proliferation, with high Pin1 levels being found only in a few cell types. However, Pin1 was strikingly overexpressed in many different human cancers. Most tumors (38 of 60 tumor types) have Pin1 overexpression in more than 10% of the cases, as compared with the corresponding normal controls, which included prostate, lung, ovary, cervical, brain tumors, and melanoma. Consistent with these findings, Pin1 expression in human cancer cell lines was also higher than that in the normal cell lines examined. These results indicate that Pin1 overexpression is a prevalent and specific event in human cancers. Given previous findings that Pin1 expression is an excellent prognostic marker in prostate cancer and that inhibition of Pin1 can suppress transformed phenotypes and inhibit tumor cell growth, these findings may have important implications for the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of human cancers.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Catalysis
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • NIMA-Interacting Peptidylprolyl Isomerase
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Peptidylprolyl Isomerase / biosynthesis*
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphorylation
  • Prognosis
  • Protein Conformation


  • NIMA-Interacting Peptidylprolyl Isomerase
  • PIN1 protein, human
  • Peptidylprolyl Isomerase