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Infect Immun. 2005 Mar;73(3):1506-14.

Inactivation of membrane tumor necrosis factor alpha by gingipains from Porphyromonas gingivalis.

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Department of Cell Biochemistry, Faculty of Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University, Gronostajowa 7, 30-387 Cracow, Poland.


Gingipains are cysteine proteinases produced by Porphyromonas gingivalis, a major causative bacterium of adult periodontitis. They consist of arginine-specific (HRgpA and RgpB) and lysine-specific (Kgp) proteinases. Gingipains strongly affect the host defense system by degrading some cytokines, components of the complement system, and several immune cell receptors. In an in vitro model, gingipains were shown to degrade soluble tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). However, since membrane TNF-alpha shows strong biological activity, especially in local inflammatory lesions, it was worth investigating whether gingipains might also destroy membrane TNF-alpha and limit its biological activities. To avoid a possible influence of gingipains on ADAM17, the secretase of TNF-alpha, the majority of experiments were performed using ADAM17-/- fibroblasts stably transfected with cDNA of human pro-TNF-alpha (ADAM17-/- TNF+). Arginine-specific gingipains (Rgp's) strongly diminished the level of TNF-alpha on the cell surface as measured by flow cytometry, and this process was not accompanied by an increased concentration of soluble TNF-alpha in the culture medium. Degradation of membrane TNF-alpha by Rgp's correlated with a strong decrease in TNF-alpha-mediated biological activities of ADAM17-/- TNF+ cells. First, the activation state of transcription factor NF-kappaB was suppressed; second, the cells were no longer able to induce apoptosis in HL-60 cells. Kgp was also able to cleave membrane TNF-alpha, but its effect was much weaker than that of Rgp's. Gingipains also limited the binding of native TNF-alpha to the target cells. Thus, gingipains are able not only to cleave soluble TNF-alpha but also to destroy the membrane form of the cytokine, which may additionally dysregulate the cytokine network.

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