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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Cutaneous protease activity in the mouse ear vesicant model.

Tissue homogenates from mouse ear skin exposed to sulfur mustard (HD, which is a military designation and probably originated from a World War I slang term 'Hun Stuff') were assayed for serine and cysteine protease activities. Enzyme activity was measured using synthetic chromogenic thioester and fluorogenic 7-amino-4-methylcoumarin (AMC) substrates. The tissue samples were obtained from animals (n = 6) at 3, 6, 12 and 24 h post-exposure from the right ear (HD exposed), whereas control samples were obtained from the left ear (treated only with dichloromethane vehicle). The samples of naive control (left and right ear) were obtained from animals that received no HD treatment (n = 3). Elastase activity was assayed with t-butyloxycarbonyl-Ala-Ala-Ala-thiobenzylester, tryptase activity with benzyloxycarbonyl-Arg-AMC and benzyloxycarbonyl-Arg-thiobenzylester, chymase activity with succinylAla-Ala-Pro-Phe-thiobenzylester and succinyl-Ala-Ala-Pro-Phe-AMC, cathepsin B activity with benzyloxycarbonyl-Arg-Arg-AMC, cathepsin H activity with Arg-AMC and calpain activity with succinyl-Leu-Tyr-AMC. The HD-exposed skin homogenates obtained at 12 and 24 h post-exposure had higher elastase activity (670% and 1900% increase) than control samples. For tryptase and calpain activities, only HD-exposed skin homogenates at 24h post-exposure showed higher activities (220% and 170% increase) when compared to the control. No differences from control were observed for HD-exposed skin obtained at 3 and 6 h post-exposure for elastase, tryptase and calpain activities. Generally, both unexposed and HD-exposed skin had distinct cathepsin B and cathepsin H enzyme activities and small chymase activity. Enzymatic assays were also performed for other serine, cysteine and metalloproteases. These data document that proteases are involved in HD skin injury and continued assessment of proteolytic activity should be useful for identifying effective antiproteases with therapeutic use in reducing or eliminating tissue injury caused by HD cutaneous exposure.[1]


  1. Cutaneous protease activity in the mouse ear vesicant model. Powers, J.C., Kam, C.M., Ricketts, K.M., Casillas, R.P. Journal of applied toxicology : JAT. (2000) [Pubmed]
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