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Mite serine protease activates protease-activated receptor-2 and induces cytokine release in human keratinocytes


Toshiro Takai
Atopy (Allergy) Research Center
Juntendo University School of Medicine
2-1-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku
Tokyo 113-8421


Background:  House dust mites produce serine and cysteine proteases. Mite-derived proteases have been suggested to be involved in the pathogenesis of allergies; however, whether mite-derived serine protease activity can stimulate keratinocytes remains unknown.

Methods:  We examined the activation of primary human keratinocytes by serine protease-rich extract of whole mite culture and compared with that by recombinant group 1 allergens (rDer f 1 and rDer p 1), which exclusively exhibit cysteine protease activity.

Results:  Protease activity of whole mite culture extract (WCE), rDer f 1 and rDer p 1 induced the release of IL-8 and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor. Protease activity of WCEs induced a significant upregulation of their mRNA expression but rDer f 1 had much less effect. Protease activity of the WCE stimulated intracellular Ca2+ mobilization but rDer f 1 and rDer p 1 did not. The mobilization induced by agonists for the human protease-activated receptor (PAR)-2, an agonist peptide or trypsin, was diminished by pre-incubation of keratinocytes with WCE. rDer f 1 inefficiently cleaved a synthetic N-terminal peptide of PAR-2 at different sites from trypsin, but the resultant peptides did not stimulate the release of interleukin-8.

Conclusions:  The results suggest that mite-derived serine protease activity may contribute to the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis by activating keratinocytes via PAR-2 activation but cysteine protease activity of Der f 1 and Der p 1 acts via another mechanism.