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Proc Assoc Am Physicians. 1997 Mar;109(2):190-207.

Thrombin and trypsin induce granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin-6 gene expression in cultured normal human keratinocytes.

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Department of Dermatology, Hamamatsu University, School of Medicine, Japan.


We studied the effects of serine proteases on cytokine gene expression by cultured normal human keratinocytes. In resting keratinocytes, steady-state mRNA levels for interleukins IL-1 alpha, IL-1 beta, IL-7, and IL-8, transforming growth factors alpha and beta, and tumor necrosis alpha were sufficient to be detected by our reverse transcriptase-polymerase clozin reaction method. Incubation of keratinocytes with 25 nM trypsin or 1 unit/ml thrombin for 24 hr selectively upregulated mRNA levels for granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and Il-6 to detectable levels. Keratinocytes secreted GM-CSF and IL-6 protein in response to these proteases. Monensin did not inhibit the gene expression for the cytokines, thereby excluding the possibility of intervention by secreted molecules. Aprotinin and argatroban inhibited the effects of the proteases. SFLLRN and SLIGRL, tethered ligand receptor peptides for thrombin receptor and for proteinase-activated receptor 2 (PAR-2), respectively, duplicated the effects of the proteases on keratinocytes, which expressed mRNA for both receptors. Trypsin increased tyrosine phosphorylated proteins and intracellular free calcium concentrations. Tyrphostin, pertussis toxin, or H-7 suppressed trypsin- and thrombin-induced GM-CSF gene expression. Our results demonstrate that the serine proteases activate thrombin receptors and PAR-2 on keratinocytes, triggering intracellular signaling and then inducing the synthesis of GM-CSF. We speculate that serine proteases modulate the course of physiological and pathological processes in the skin by stimulating keratinocytes to produce the cytokines.

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