Firstly discovered as a placental protein present abundantly in the circulation of pregnant women, pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) is widely expressed in multiple tissues. PAPP-A is a metalloproteinase that is able to specifically cleave three insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs): IGFBP-2, -4 and -5. PAPP-A binds tightly to glycosaminoglycans present on the surface of cells, thus functioning within tissues as a growth-promoting enzyme, releasing bioactive IGF in close proximity to the IGF receptor. Pro-MBP and stanniocalcin-2 (STC2) appear to be the main inhibitors of PAPP-A activity, by forming a covalent complex with the protease. According to in vivo experiments, IGFBP-4 is believed to be the main PAPP-A substrate to regulate IGF bioavailability. The regulation of PAPP-A includes transcriptional control of its gene, competing reactions with other IGFBPs potentially sequestering IGF from IGFBP-4 and hence antagonizing PAPP-A-mediated IGF activation, and proteolytic inhibition of PAPP-A. Finally, PAPP-A may serve as a therapeutic target to indirectly inhibit IGF signalling in tissues where this is driven by increased PAPP-A activity. By taking advantage of the intricate interaction between PAPP-A and IGFBP-4, highly specific and selective inhibition of PAPP-A is possible.
- Journal Article