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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Aug 1, 1993; 90(15): 7181–7185.

Hepsin, a putative cell-surface serine protease, is required for mammalian cell growth.


Hepsin was previously identified as a putative cell-surface serine protease. When hepatoma cells were treated with anti-hepsin antibodies, their growth was substantially arrested, suggesting the requirement of hepsin molecules present at the cell surface for normal cell growth. This was further supported by a gross inhibition of cell growth with hepsin-specific antisense oligonucleotides. Upon treatment of cells with antisense oligonucleotides, rapid reduction in cellular hepsin was observed. This reduction in cellular hepsin levels was accompanied by drastic morphological changes. Various tissues in the developing mouse embryo showed greatly elevated hepsin levels in regions of active proliferation. These results indicate that hepsin plays an essential role in cell growth and maintenance of cell morphology.

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