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Extended Cleavage Specificities Of Two Mast Cell Chymase-Related Proteases And One Granzyme B-Like Protease From The Platypus, A Monotreme

Zhirong Fu, Srinivas Akula, Michael Thorpe, Lars Hellman

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Mast cells (MCs) are inflammatory cells primarily found in tissues in close contact with the external environment, such as the skin and the intestinal mucosa. They store large amounts of active components in cytoplasmic granules, ready for rapid release. The major protein content of these granules is proteases, which can account for up to 35 % of the total cellular protein. Depending on their primary cleavage specificity, they can generally be subdivided into chymases and tryptases. Here we present the extended cleavage specificities of two such proteases from the platypus. Both of them show an extended chymotrypsin-like specificity almost identical to other mammalian MC chymases. This suggests that MC chymotryptic enzymes have been conserved, both in structure and extended cleavage specificity, for more than 200 million years, indicating major functions in MC-dependent physiological processes. We have also studied a third closely related protease, originating from the same chymase locus whose cleavage specificity is closely related to the apoptosis-inducing protease from cytotoxic T cells, granzyme B. The presence of both a chymase and granzyme B in all studied mammals indicates that these two proteases bordering the locus are the founding members of this locus.