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J Invest Dermatol. 2000 Jan;114(1):56-63.

Stratum corneum tryptic enzyme in normal epidermis: a missing link in the desquamation process?

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Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Dermatology and Venereology, UmeƄ University, Sweden.


Stratum corneum chymotryptic enzyme may be important in desquamation. It has also been suggested that other proteases, especially stratum corneum tryptic enzyme, may be involved. Stratum corneum tryptic enzyme has been purified and its cDNA has been cloned. Results from expression analyses indicate that stratum corneum tryptic enzyme is as skin specific as stratum corneum chymotryptic enzyme. In this work we have produced and characterized antibodies specific for stratum corneum tryptic enzyme. We have also by means of biochemical, immunochemical, and immunohistochemical methods performed studies on stratum corneum tryptic enzyme in normal human epidermis. Antibodies against bacterial recombinant stratum corneum tryptic enzyme were produced and purified by affinity chromatography. Two types of antibodies were obtained: one reacting only with pro-stratum corneum tryptic enzyme and one specific for the catalytically active part of stratum corneum tryptic enzyme. Immunohistochemistry with the antibodies reacting with pro-stratum corneum tryptic enzyme showed a staining pattern similar to stratum corneum chymotryptic enzyme-specific antibodies, i.e., the expression was confined to cornifying epithelia with a need of desquamation-like processes. Extracts of tape strips with superficial human stratum corneum were found to contain precursors as well as active forms of stratum corneum tryptic enzyme and stratum corneum chymotryptic enzyme. The enzymes had maximal activity at pH 8, but both had considerable activity also at pH 5.5. The results were compatible for a role of stratum corneum tryptic enzyme in desquamation. Stratum corneum tryptic enzyme may act in concert with stratum corneum chymotryptic enzyme and/or function as a stratum corneum chymotryptic enzyme-activating enzyme. The presence in normal superficial stratum corneum of precursors as well as of active forms of stratum corneum chymotryptic enzyme and stratum corneum tryptic enzyme, and the activity of both enzymes over a broad range of pH-values, suggest some possible ways by which the desquamation may be regulated.

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