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J Biol Chem. 2012 Apr 27;287(18):14703-17. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.323220. Epub 2012 Mar 6.

Disruption of proprotein convertase 1/3 (PC1/3) expression in mice causes innate immune defects and uncontrolled cytokine secretion.

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Institut de pharmacologie de Sherbrooke, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec J1H 5N4, Canada.


The proprotein convertase 1/3 is expressed in the regulated secretory pathway of neural and endocrine cells. Its major function is in the post-translational processing and activation of precursor proteins. The PC1/3 knock-out (KO) mouse model has allowed us to elucidate its physiological functions in studies focused primarily on neuroendocrine tissues. However, PC1/3 is also expressed in cells of the immune system, mainly in macrophages. The present study explores the effects of innate immune challenge in the PC1/3 KO mouse. PC1/3 KO mice have an enlarged spleen with marked disorganization of the marginal zone and red pulp. Immunohistochemical studies using various markers demonstrate a depletion of dendritic cells in PC1/3 KO spleens. When challenged with lipopolysaccharide, PC1/3 KO mice are more susceptible to septic shock than wild-type controls or other PC KO mice, such as PC2 and PC7 null mice. Plasma levels of proinflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-1β, and TNF-α) were very significantly elevated in PC1/3 KO mice, consistent with a hypercytokinemia, i.e. indicative of a major systemic uncontrolled inflammatory response or cytokine storm. Peritoneal macrophages isolated from PC1/3 KO mice also demonstrate elevated cytokine secretion when treated with LPS. Electron micrographs show morphological features indicating a prolonged activation of these cells following LPS stimulation. We also present evidence that the proinflammatory T(h)1 pathway is dominant in the PC1/3 KO mouse model. We conclude that aside from its important role in neuroendocrine functions PC1/3 also has an important role in the regulation of the innate immune system, most likely through the regulation of cytokine secretion in macrophages.

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