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J Biol Chem. 2013 Jun 14;288(24):17399-407. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.440362. Epub 2013 Apr 23.

Cleavage activation of human-adapted influenza virus subtypes by kallikrein-related peptidases 5 and 12.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


A critical step in the influenza virus replication cycle is the cleavage activation of the HA precursor. Cleavage activation of influenza HA enables fusion with the host endosome, allowing for release of the viral genome into the host cell. To date, studies have determined that HA activation is driven by trypsin-like host cell proteases, as well as yet to be identified bacterial proteases. Although the number of host proteases that can activate HA is growing, there is still uncertainty regarding which secreted proteases are able to support multicycle replication of influenza. In this study, we have determined that the kallikrein-related peptidases 5 and 12 are secreted from the human respiratory tract and have the ability to cleave and activate HA from the H1, H2, and H3 subtypes. Each peptidase appears to have a preference for particular influenza subtypes, with kallikrein 5 cleaving the H1 and H3 subtypes most efficiently and kallikrein 12 cleaving the H1 and H2 subtypes most efficiently. Cleavage analysis using HA cleavage site peptide mimics revealed that the amino acids neighboring the arginine cleavage site affect cleavage efficiency. Additionally, the thrombolytic zymogens plasminogen, urokinase, and plasma kallikrein have all been shown to cleave and activate influenza but are found circulating mainly as inactive precursors. Kallikrein 5 and kallikrein 12 were examined for their ability to activate the thrombolytic zymogens, and both resulted in activation of each zymogen, with kallikrein 12 being a more potent activator. Activation of the thrombolytic zymogens may therefore allow for both direct and indirect activation of the HA of human-adapted influenza viruses by kallikrein 5 and kallikrein 12.


Hemagglutinin; Influenza Virus; Kallikrein; Membrane Fusion; Protease; Serine Protease

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