Heat shock protein 70 and glycoprotein 96 are differentially expressed on the surface of malignant and nonmalignant breast cells.
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Heat shock proteins (HSPs), which are important for a number of different intracellular functions, are occasionally found on the surface of cells. The function of heat shock protein on the cell surface is not understood, although it has been shown to be greater in some tumor cells and some virally infected cells. Surface expression of both glycoprotein 96 (gp96) and Hsp70 occurs on tumor cells, and this expression correlates with natural killer cell killing of the cells. We examined the surface expression of gp96 and Hsp70 on human breast cell lines MCF7, MCF10A, AU565, and HS578, and in primary human mammary epithelial cells by immunofluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. The nonmalignant cell lines HS578, MCF10A, and HMEC showed no surface expression of gp96, whereas malignant cell lines MCF7 and AU565 were positive for gp96 surface expression. All of the breast cell lines examined showed Hsp70 surface expression. These results also confirm previous studies, demonstrating that Hsp70 is on the plasma membrane of tumor cell lines. Given the involvement of heat shock proteins, gp96 and Hsp70, in innate and adaptive immunity, these observations may be important in the immune response to tumor cells.