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J Biol Chem. 1997 Mar 7;272(10):6370-6.

Hepatocyte growth factor activator inhibitor, a novel Kunitz-type serine protease inhibitor.

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Research Center, Mitsubishi Chemical Corp., Aoba-ku, Yokohama 227, Japan.


Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) activator is a serine protease that is produced and secreted by the liver and circulates in the blood as an inactive zymogen. In response to tissue injury, the HGF activator zymogen is converted to the active form by limited proteolysis. The activated HGF activator converts an inactive single chain precursor of HGF to a biologically active heterodimer in injured tissue. The activated HGF may be involved in the regeneration of the injured tissue. In this study, we purified an inhibitor of HGF activator from the conditioned medium of a human MKN45 stomach carcinoma cell line and molecularly cloned its cDNA. The sequence of the cDNA revealed that the inhibitor has two well defined Kunitz domains, suggesting that the inhibitor is a member of the Kunitz family of serine protease inhibitors. The sequence also showed that the primary translation product of the inhibitor has a hydrophobic sequence at the COOH-terminal region. Inhibitory activity toward HGF activator was detected in the membrane fraction as well as in the conditioned medium of MKN45 cells. These results suggest that the inhibitor may be produced as a membrane-associated form and secreted by the producing cells as a proteolytically truncated form.

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