An immunohistochemical approach to monitor the prolactin-induced activation of the JAK2/STAT5 pathway in pancreatic islets of langerhans

T. Clark Brelje, Annika M. Svensson, Laurence E. Stout, Nicholas V. Bhagroo, Robert L Sorenson

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43 Scopus citations


This study examined whether an immunohistochemical method examining the subcellular localization of STAT5 could be used to characterize the activation of the JAK2/STAT5 pathway by prolactin (PRL) in intact cells or tissues. In the Ins-1 β-cell line, STAT5A and STAT5B were distributed almost equally in the cytoplasm and the nucleus in unstimulated cells. STAT5A was also detected along the border of cells and in the perinuclear region. After exposure to PRL, the redistribution from the cytoplasm to the nucleus was much higher for STAT5B compared to STAT5A. This translocation represented 12% of the STAT5A and 22% of the STAT5B originally located in the cytoplasm before stimulation. In isolated rat islets of Langerhans, PRL stimulated the nuclear translocation of both STAT5A and STAT5B only in β-cells. The expression of the PRL receptor only by β-cells was confirmed with a rabbit polyclonal antiserum raised against the rat PRL receptor. It was estimated that 4% of STAT5A and 9% of STAT5B originally located in the cytoplasm was translocated to the nucleus after stimulation. The presence of a functional JAK2/STAT5 signaling pathway in all islet cells was demonstrated by the nuclear translocation of STAT5B in all islet cells (i.e., α-, β-, and δ-cells) after stimulation with fetal calf serum. The nuclear translocation and tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT5B was biphasic, with an initial peak within 30 min, a nadir between 1 and 3 hr, and prolonged activation after 4 hr. In contrast, the tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT5A was also biphasic but its nuclear translocation peaked within 30 min and was then reduced to a level slightly above that observed before PRL stimulation. This method is able to detect changes in STAT5 activation as small as 2% of the total cell content. These observations demonstrate the utility of this approach for studying the activation of STAT5 in a mixed population of cells within tissues or organs. In addition, the dose response for the nuclear translocation of STAT5B in normal β-cells was similar to those for changes in proliferation and insulin secretion in isolated rat islets. Therefore, the subcellular localization can be used to monitor the activation of STAT5 and it may be a key event in the upregulation of the pancreatic islets of Langerhans during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-383
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Islet of Langerhans
  • Prolactin
  • STAT5
  • β-cells pregnancy


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