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J Biol Chem. 1990 Apr 15;265(11):6318-22.

Processing of precursor interleukin 1 beta and inflammatory disease.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics, SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania 19406-0939.


The processing of precursor interleukin 1 beta (IL1 beta) by elastase, cathepsin G, and collagenase, the major proteases released at sites of inflammation, was investigated using recombinant pro-IL1 beta. Each of these proteases cleaved the 31-kDa inactive precursor to a form similar in size and specific activity (greater than 10(8) units/mg) to the 17-kDa mature protein isolated from activated monocytes. Elastase, collagenase, and cathepsin G cleaved the IL1 beta precursor at distinct sites which are amino-terminal to the monocyte-processing site, Ala-117 (Cameron, P., Lumjuco, G., Rodkey, J., Bennett, C., and Schmidt, J. A. (1985) J. Exp. Med. 162, 790-801). Amino-terminal sequencing of the products of digestion by elastase and cathepsin G determined that resultant active IL1 beta proteins contained an additional 13 or 3 amino acids relative to mature IL1 beta. Synovial fluid collected from patients with inflammatory polyarthritis and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from patients with sarcoidosis supplied similar processing activity(s). Control fluids from patients who had no symptoms of inflammatory disease did not exhibit processing activity. Lavage fluids that processed precursor IL1 beta were demonstrated to contain cathepsin G and/or elastase activity, whereas controls were negative. Because a significant fraction of IL1 beta may be secreted from monocytes as the inactive 31-kDa precursor (Hazuda, D. J., Lee, J. C., and Young, P. R. (1988) J. Biol. Chem. 263, 8473-8479, Bomford, R., Absull, E., Hughes-Jenkins, C., Simpkin, D., and Schmidt, J. (1987) Immunology 62, 543-549, and Mizel, S. B. (1988) in Cellular and Molecular Aspects of Inflammation Poste, G., and Crooke, S., eds) pp. 75-93, Plenum Publishing Corp., New York), these results suggest that in vivo the IL1 beta precursor can be processed after secretion by any of several proteases released at inflammatory sites.

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