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

Characterization and gene sequence of the precursor of elafin, an elastase-specific inhibitor in bronchial secretions.

Human bronchial mucous secretions have been shown to contain inhibitors of serine proteinases secreted by neutrophils. The role of these inhibitors is probably to control the enzymes secreted in the airways and in the lung interstitium. Three of these inhibitors have been identified and characterized: alpha 1-proteinase inhibitor, mucus proteinase inhibitor, and elafin. The elafin molecule, a 6.0 kD inhibitor of serine proteinases shows homology with mucus proteinase inhibitor. We recently isolated both molecules in bronchial secretions. In this report, we present evidence for the existence of a precursor of the elafin molecule. We have cloned and sequenced the gene for this precursor and show that it is composed of three exons. The coding information for a 117 amino acid precursor protein of elafin (inclusive of the signal peptide) is contained in the first two exons. This was confirmed at the mRNA and protein levels. By Northern Blot analysis we detected a 800 bp long product, and by immunoaffinity we detected in sputum and in cultured epithelial cell supernatant (NCI-H322 cell line) a 12 kD protein species cross-reacting with anti-elafin IgG. The finding of possible cross-linking function for the precursor in addition to its antiproteinase activity indicates a possible role for this molecule as a cross-linker agent in the extracellular matrix.[1]


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