Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below

Serpins and regulation of cell death.

Author information

Department of Medicine, Monash Medical School, Box Hill Hospital, Australia.


Proteolysis is a key feature of programmed cell death. Extracellular proteinases can activate cell surface receptors which trigger apoptosis, and the effector machinery requires the activation and activity of numerous intracellular proteinases (primarily caspases). Effective control of proteolysis is essential for homeostasis and can occur at two levels: regulation of proteinase activation, and regulation of the activated proteinase. Serpins control activated proteinases and several have been implicated in the regulation of cell death. Serpins that inhibit intracellular processes include the viral proteins CrmA and SPI-1, as well as the granzyme B inhibitor, PI-9. Another endogenous serpin, PN-I, prevents the delivery of an apoptotic signal by inhibiting an extracellular proteinase from cleaving a cell surface receptor. There is evidence to suggest that PAI-2 may target an extracellular as well as an intracellular proteinase. Much of our knowledge of proteolysis within apoptotic cells has come from studies using the poxvirus serpin CrmA/SPI-2. CrmA prevents cytokine processing by inhibiting caspase-1, and protects against Fas-, TNF- and TRAIL-mediated apoptosis by inhibiting an unidentified proteinase specific to these pathways. Work with CrmA has also clearly demonstrated that there are separable effector mechanisms within cells, and that those triggered by growth factor withdrawal, matrix dissociation or cytotoxic ligands are different in several respects to those triggered by radiation, chemicals or steroid hormones. It is likely that analysis of other poxvirus serpins with different inhibitory profiles (especially SPI-1) will yield further insights into these processes. Prospecting for intracellular serpin genes in other virus species may also be fruitful. Finally, all of the serpins known to regulate intracellular proteolysis are members of the ovalbumin subgroup. It remains to be seen whether the more recently described "orphan" ovalbumin serpins (Riewald and Schleef 1995; Sprecher et al. 1995; Sun et al. 1997) also have roles in the regulation of cell death.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center