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Blood. 2004 Apr 1;103(7):2710-7. Epub 2003 Dec 11.

Intracellular serpin SERPINB6 (PI6) is abundantly expressed by human mast cells and forms complexes with beta-tryptase monomers.

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Department of Clinical Chemistry, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


SERPINB6 (PI6) is a member of the intracellular serine protease inhibitors (serpins). Previous studies showed that SERPINB6 is localized mainly in the cytoplasm of endothelial cells, some epithelial cells, monocytes, and neutrophils. In these cells SERPINB6 is thought to prevent cellular damage by scavenging leaking lysosomal proteases. We show here, using novel, well-defined monoclonal antibodies, that SERPINB6 is abundantly expressed by mast cells in all organs and by the human mast cell line HMC-1. Gel filtration experiments revealed that the latter cells contain a high-molecular-weight form of SERPINB6, which consists of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)-stable complexes of this inhibitor with monomeric beta-tryptase. Expression of SERPINB6 by mast cells was compared with those of tryptase and CD117 (c-kit) in biopsies from patients with different forms of mast cell disease. In all cases the lesional mast cells expressed SERPINB6, and, in diffuse cutaneous mastocytosis and mastocytoma, SERPINB6 was expressed by a substantially higher number of mast cells when compared with tryptase. In conclusion, SERPINB6 is abundantly expressed by normal mast cells and by mast cells in mastocytoma lesions. We suggest that in mast cells, SERPINB6 serves to regulate the activity of endogenous beta-tryptase in the cytoplasm.

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