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Exp Cell Res. 1998 Dec 15;245(2):263-71.

Proteinase inhibitor 6 (PI-6) expression in human skin: induction of PI-6 and a PI-6/proteinase complex during keratinocyte differentiation.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Monash University, Box Hill Hospital 3128, Melbourne, Australia.


Proteinase inhibitor 6 (PI-6) is a 42-kDa intracellular protein present in epithelial cells and endothelial cells. It is capable of inhibiting a number of serine proteinases, including trypsin and chymotrypsin. In this study we examined PI-6 expression in human skin and its primary cell type, the keratinocyte. By immunohistochemical analysis, PI-6 staining is absent from the basal cells, weak in the spinous layer, and strongest in the granulosa layer of human epidermis. Immunoblotting of cultured primary keratinocytes revealed that PI-6 production increases 24-fold on differentiation. Analysis of an immortalized keratinocyte cell line, HaCat, showed a 5-fold increase in PI-6 mRNA and a 7-fold increase in PI-6 protein upon differentiation, and indirect immunofluorescence revealed that this is due to an increase in the number of differentiated cells expressing high levels of PI-6. Of particular interest is the appearance of a preformed complex between PI-6 and an endogenous serine proteinase in differentiating HaCat cells, which was detected by a monoclonal antibody demonstrated to preferentially recognize PI-6 in complex with a proteinase. This identification of a PI-6/proteinase complex is the first example of a serpin bound to a proteinase in keratinocytes. We postulate that a physiological role of PI-6 is to regulate a serine proteinase associated with keratinocyte differentiation.

Copyright 1998 Academic Press.

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