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Role of tissue kallikrein-related peptidases in cervical mucus remodeling and host defense



Role of tissue kallikrein-related peptidases in cervical mucus remodeling and host defense



Biological Chemistry 389(12): 1513-1522



Human tissue kallikrein-related peptidases (KLKs) are 15 hormonally regulated genes on chromosome 19q13.4 encoding secreted serine proteases. Many KLKs are expressed throughout the female reproductive system and found in cervico-vaginal fluid (CVF). Immunohistochemistry was performed to determine KLK localization in the female reproductive system (fallopian tube, endometrium, cervix and vagina tissues). KLK levels were measured in CVF and saliva over the menstrual cycle to study whether KLKs are regulated by hormonal changes during the cycle. In vitro cleavage analysis was performed to establish whether KLKs may play a role in vaginal epithelial desquamation, mucus remodeling or processing of antimicrobial proteins. KLKs were localized in the glandular epithelium of the fallopian tubes and endometrium, the cervical mucus-secreting epithelium and vaginal stratified squamous epithelium. KLK levels peaked in CVF and saliva after ovulation. In vitro cleavage analysis confirmed KLKs 5 and 12 as capable of digesting desmoglein and desmocollin adhesion proteins and cervical mucin proteins 4 and 5B. KLK5 can digest defensin-1alpha, suggesting it may aid in cervico-vaginal host defense. We provide evidence of potential physiological roles for KLKs in cervico-vaginal physiology: in desquamation of vaginal epithelial cells, remodeling of cervical mucus and processing of antimicrobial proteins.

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Accession: 055614903

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PMID: 18844451

DOI: 10.1515/BC.2008.171


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