Cytolytic effects of neutrophils: Role for a membrane-bound neutral proteinase

S. Pontremoli, E. Melloni, M. Michetti, O. Sacco, B. Sparatore, F. Salamino, G. Damiani, B. L. Horecker

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A neutral serine proteinase, purified 250-fold from the plasma membrane fraction of human neutrophils, differs in its catalytic and molecular properties from the well-known neutral proteinases present in azurophil (primary) granules. Stimulation of neutrophils with low concentrations of phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) results in the release into the medium of the membrane-bound proteinase and the concomitant production of oxygen radicals. These concentrations of PMA also induce full cytolytic activity measured with 51Cr-labeled ox erythrocytes. A role of the neutral serine proteinase in the cytolytic activity of PMA-stimulated neutrophils is supported by the following observations: (i) the lytic activity of the stimulated neutrophils is correlated with the quantity of neutral proteinase present in the membranes; (ii) the extracellular medium from PMA-stimulated neutrophils causes the cytolysis of 51Cr-labeled erythrocytes that have been exposed to nonlytic concentrations of H2O2; (iii) cytolysis of H2O2-treated erythrocytes is also observed with the crude proteinase solubilized from neutrophil membranes or with the purified proteinase from the same source; and (iv) in each case the cytolytic activity is proportional to the proteinase activity present and is prevented by the addition of serine proteinase inhibitors. We conclude that cytolysis of target cells by PMA-activated neutrophils can result from the cooperative effects of oxygen radicals and the membrane-bound neutral serine proteinase. The participation of enzymes from specific (secondary) granules is excluded because, with the low concentrations of PMA employed, very little release of secondary granule constituents is observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1685-1689
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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