Translocation of heparanase into nucleus results in cell differentiation

Cancer Sci. 2007 Apr;98(4):535-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2007.00420.x. Epub 2007 Jan 31.


We recently reported that heparanase, one of the extracellular matrix-degrading enzymes, which plays a critical role in cancer progression, is located not only in the cytoplasm but also in the nucleus. Here we identified nuclear translocation of heparanase as a key step in cell differentiation. We applied an in vitro differentiation model of HL-60 cells with 12-0-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), in which nuclear translocation of heparanase was observed using immunohistochemical analysis. In this system, nuclear translocation of heparanase was abolished by inhibitors of heat shock protein 90 (HSP90), suggesting the involvement of HSP90 in translocation of heparanase. We further confirmed that overexpression of active form of heparanase induced differentiation of HL-60 cells, although the catalytic negative form of heparanase did not. Therefore we speculate that nuclear translocation of enzymatically active heparanase may be involved in cellular differentiation. Our results suggest that a novel function of heparanase upon cell differentiation would raise a potential new strategy for cancer therapy of promyeloid leukemia and other types of cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Benzoquinones / pharmacology
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism*
  • Glucuronidase / metabolism*
  • HL-60 Cells
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Humans
  • Lactams, Macrocyclic / pharmacology
  • Protein Transport
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology


  • Benzoquinones
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Lactams, Macrocyclic
  • heparanase
  • Glucuronidase
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate
  • geldanamycin