Control of granzymes by serpins

Cell Death Differ. 2010 Apr;17(4):586-95. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2009.169. Epub 2009 Nov 6.


Although proteolysis mediated by granzymes has an important role in the immune response to infection or tumours, unrestrained granzyme activity may damage normal cells. In this review, we discuss the role of serpins within the immune system, as specific regulators of granzymes. The well-characterised human granzyme B-SERPINB9 interaction highlights the cytoprotective function that serpins have in safeguarding lymphocytes from granzymes that may leak from granules. We also discuss some of the pitfalls inherent in using rodent models of granzyme-serpin interactions and the ways in which our understanding of serpins can help resolve some of the current, contentious issues in granzyme biology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoprotection / physiology*
  • Granzymes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Serine Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Serpins / chemistry
  • Serpins / genetics
  • Serpins / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / enzymology*
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Serpins
  • Viral Proteins
  • interleukin-1beta-converting enzyme inhibitor
  • Granzymes
  • Gzmb protein, mouse
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • Serpinb9 protein, mouse