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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2008;40(6-7):1246-72. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2008.01.020. Epub 2008 Jan 31.

Leukocyte cell surface proteinases: regulation of expression, functions, and mechanisms of surface localization.

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  • 1Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 905 Thorn Building, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115, United States.


A number of proteinases are expressed on the surface of leukocytes including members of the serine, metallo-, and cysteine proteinase superfamilies. Some proteinases are anchored to the plasma membrane of leukocytes by a transmembrane domain or a glycosyl phosphatidyl inositol (GPI) anchor. Other proteinases bind with high affinity to classical receptors, or with lower affinity to integrins, proteoglycans, or other leukocyte surface molecules. Leukocyte surface levels of proteinases are regulated by: (1) cytokines, chemokines, bacterial products, and growth factors which stimulate synthesis and/or release of proteinases by cells; (2) the availability of surface binding sites for proteinases; and/or (3) internalization or shedding of surface-bound proteinases. The binding of proteinases to leukocyte surfaces serves many functions including: (1) concentrating the activity of proteinases to the immediate pericellular environment; (2) facilitating pro-enzyme activation; (3) increasing proteinase stability and retention in the extracellular space; (4) regulating leukocyte function by proteinases signaling through cell surface binding sites or other surface proteins; and (5) protecting proteinases from inhibition by extracellular proteinase inhibitors. There is strong evidence that membrane-associated proteinases on leukocytes play critical roles in wound healing, inflammation, extracellular matrix remodeling, fibrinolysis, and coagulation. This review will outline the biology of membrane-associated proteinases expressed by leukocytes and their roles in physiologic and pathologic processes.

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