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J Biol Chem. 2010 Jul 9;285(28):21478-86. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.114991. Epub 2010 Apr 28.

Synovial fibroblasts promote the expression and granule accumulation of tryptase via interleukin-33 and its receptor ST-2 (IL1RL1).

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Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


A characteristic feature of tissue resident human mast cells (MCs) is their hTryptase-beta-rich cytoplasmic granules. Mouse MC protease-6 (mMCP-6) is the ortholog of hTryptase-beta, and we have shown that this tetramer-forming tryptase has beneficial roles in innate immunity but adverse roles in inflammatory disorders like experimental arthritis. Because the key tissue factors that control tryptase expression in MCs have not been identified, we investigated the mechanisms by which fibroblasts mediate the expression and granule accumulation of mMCP-6. Immature mouse bone marrow-derived MCs (mBMMCs) co-cultured with fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) or mouse 3T3 fibroblasts markedly increased their levels of mMCP-6. This effect was caused by an undefined soluble factor whose levels could be increased by exposing FLS to tumor necrosis factor-alpha or interleukin (IL)-1beta. Gene expression profiling of mBMMCs and FLS for receptor.ligand pairs of potential relevance raised the possibility that IL-33 was a sought after fibroblast-derived factor that promotes tryptase expression and granule maturation via its receptor IL1RL1/ST2. MCs lacking IL1RL1 exhibited defective fibroblast-driven tryptase accumulation, whereas recombinant IL-33 induced mMCP-6 mRNA and protein accumulation in wild-type mBMMCs. In agreement with these data, synovial MCs from IL1RL1-null mice exhibited a marked reduction in mMCP-6 expression. IL-33 is the first factor shown to modulate tryptase expression in MCs at the mRNA and protein levels. We therefore have identified a novel pathway by which mesenchymal cells exposed to inflammatory cytokines modulate the phenotype of local MCs to shape their immune responses.

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