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Background: Matriptase is a membrane serine protease essential for epithelial development, homeostasis, and regeneration, as well as a central orchestrator of pathogenic pericellular signaling in the context of inflammatory and proliferative diseases. Matriptase is an unusual protease in that its zymogen displays measurable enzymatic activity. Results: Here, we used gain and loss of function genetics to investigate the possible biological functions of zymogen matriptase. Unexpectedly, transgenic mice mis-expressing a zymogen-locked version of matriptase in the epidermis displayed pathologies previously reported for transgenic mice mis-expressing wildtype epidermal matriptase. Equally surprising, mice engineered to express only zymogen-locked endogenous matriptase, unlike matriptase null mice, were viable, developed epithelial barrier function, and regenerated the injured epithelium. Compatible with these observations, wildtype and zymogen-locked matriptase were equipotent activators of PAR-2 inflammatory signaling. Conclusion: The study demonstrates that the matriptase zymogen is biologically active and is capable of executing developmental and homeostatic functions of the protease.
Friis, S., Tadeo, D., Le-Gall, S. M., Jürgensen, H. J., Sales, K. U., Camerer, E., & Bugge, T. H. (2017). Matriptase zymogen supports epithelial development, homeostasis and regeneration. BMC Biology, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-017-0384-4