Open Access Open Badges Research article

Identification of oxidized protein hydrolase as a potential prodrug target in prostate cancer

Christopher A McGoldrick1, Yu-Lin Jiang2, Victor Paromov1, Marianne Brannon1, Koyamangalath Krishnan3 and William L Stone1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatrics, East Tennessee State University, P.O. Box 70579, Johnson City, TN 37614, USA

2 Department of Chemistry, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN USA

3 Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Cancer 2014, 14:77  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-77

Published: 10 February 2014



Esterases are often overexpressed in cancer cells and can have chiral specificities different from that of the corresponding normal tissues. For this reason, ester prodrugs could be a promising approach in chemotherapy. In this study, we focused on the identification and characterization of differentially expressed esterases between non-tumorigenic and tumorigenic prostate epithelial cells.


Cellular lysates from LNCaP, DU 145, and PC3 prostate cancer cell lines, tumorigenic RWPE-2 prostate epithelial cells, and non-tumorigenic RWPE-1 prostate epithelial cells were separated by native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (n-PAGE) and the esterase activity bands visualized using α-naphthyl acetate or α-naphthyl-N-acetylalaninate (ANAA) chiral esters and Fast Blue RR salt. The esterases were identified using nanospray LC/MS-MS tandem mass spectrometry and confirmed by Western blotting, native electroblotting, inhibition assays, and activity towards a known specific substrate. The serine protease/esterase oxidized protein hydrolase (OPH) was overexpressed in COS-7 cells to verify our results.


The major esterase observed with the ANAA substrates within the n-PAGE activity bands was identified as OPH. OPH (EC is a serine protease/esterase and a member of the prolyl oligopeptidase family. We found that LNCaP lysates contained approximately 40% more OPH compared to RWPE-1 lysates. RWPE-2, DU145 and PC3 cell lysates had similar levels of OPH activity. OPH within all of the cell lysates tested had a chiral preference for the S-isomer of ANAA. LNCaP cells were stained more intensely with ANAA substrates than RWPE-1 cells and COS-7 cells overexpressing OPH were found to have a higher activity towards the ANAA and AcApNA than parent COS-7 cells.


These data suggest that prodrug derivatives of ANAA and AcApNA could have potential as chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of prostate cancer tumors that overexpress OPH.