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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2006 Mar;63(6):709-22.

Neuroserpin: a serpin to think about.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Wellcome Trust/Medical Research Council Building, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2XY, United Kingdom. em285@cam.ac.uk


Proteinases and their inhibitors play important roles in neural development, homeostasis and disease. Neuroserpin is a member of the serine proteinase inhibitor (serpin) superfamily that is secreted from the growth cones of neurons and inhibits the enzyme tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA). The temporal and spatial pattern of neuroserpin expression suggests a role in synaptogenesis and is most prominent in areas of the brain that participate in learning, memory and behaviour. Neuroserpin also provides neuronal protection in pathologies such as cerebral ischaemia and epilepsy by preventing excessive activity of tPA. Point mutations in neuroserpin cause aberrant conformational transitions and the formation of loop-sheet polymers that are retained within the endoplasmic reticulum of neurons, forming inclusion bodies that underlie an autosomal dominant dementia that we have called familial encephalopathy with neuroserpin inclusion bodies or FENIB. We review here the role of neuroserpin and other proteinase inhibitors in brain development, function and disease.

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