T-kininogen can either induce or inhibit proliferation in Balb/c 3T3 fibroblasts, depending on the route of administration
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T-kininogen (T-KG) is a precursor of T-kinin, the most abundant kinin in rat serum, and also acts as a strong and specific cysteine proteinase inhibitor. Its expression is strongly induced during aging in rats, and expression of T-KG in Balb/c 3T3 fibroblasts results in inhibition of cell proliferation. However, T-KG is a serum protein produced primarily in the liver, and thus, most cells are only exposed to the protein from the outside. To test the effect of T-KG on fibroblasts exposed to exogenous T-KG, we purified the protein from the serum of K-kininogen-deficient Katholiek rats. In contrast to the results obtained by transfection, exposure of Balb/c 3T3 fibroblasts to exogenously added T-KG leads to a dose-dependent increase in [H-3]-thymidine incorporation. This response does not require kinin receptors, but it is clearly mediated by activation of the ERK pathway. As a control, we repeated the transfection experiments, using a different promoter. The results are consistent with our published data showing that, under these circumstances, T-KG inhibits cell proliferation. We conclude that T-KG exerts opposite effects on fibroblast proliferation, depending exclusively on the way that it is administered to the cells (transfection versus exogenous addition).