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Matrix Biol. 2012 Jan;31(1):38-44. doi: 10.1016/j.matbio.2011.09.003. Epub 2011 Sep 25.

Neutrophil elastase cleaves the murine hemidesmosomal protein BP180/type XVII collagen and generates degradation products that modulate experimental bullous pemphigoid.

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Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, Liaoning, P.R. China; Department of Dermatology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


Bullous pemphigoid (BP) is an autoimmune subepidermal blistering disease associated with autoantibodies against the hemidesmosomal proteins BP180 and BP230. In the IgG passive transfer model of BP, blister formation is triggered by anti-BP180 IgG and depends on complement activation, mast cell degranulation, and neutrophil recruitment. Mice lacking neutrophil elastase (NE) do not develop experimental BP. Here, we demonstrated that NE degrades recombinant mouse BP180 within the immunodominant extracellular domain at amino acid positions 506 and 561, generating peptide p561 and peptide p506. Peptide p561 is chemotactic for neutrophils both in vitro and in vivo. Local injection of NE into B6 mice recruits neutrophils to the skin, and neutrophil infiltration is completely blocked by co-injection with the NE inhibitor α1-proteinase inhibitor. More importantly, NE directly cleaves BP180 in mouse and human skin, as well as the native human BP180 trimer molecule. These results demonstrate that (i) NE directly damages the extracellular matrix and (ii) NE degradation of mouse BP180 generates neutrophil chemotactic peptides that amplify disease severity at the early stage of the disease.

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