Neprilysin is identical to skin fibroblast elastase: its role in skin aging and UV responses

J Biol Chem. 2010 Dec 17;285(51):39819-27. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.161547. Epub 2010 Sep 28.


Although human skin fibroblast (HSF) elastase has been characterized as a membrane-bound metalloproteinase, little is known about its structure, amino acid sequence, and encoding gene. As there are similarities in the molecular weights and inhibitory profiles of HSF elastase and neprilysin (neutral endopeptidase 24.11 (NEP)), in this study we tested the hypothesis that they are identical using immunoprecipitation and transfection methods. An immunoprecipitation study demonstrated that HSF elastase activity co-immunoprecipitated with anti-NEP in lysates of cultured HSF. Transfection of an NEP cDNA expression vector into COS-1 cells elicited the expression of HSF elastase and NEP activities in the transfected cells. These findings strongly suggest that HSF elastase is identical to NEP, which functions mainly in neuron-associated cells to degrade neuropeptides. Analysis of the expression pattern of NEP revealed that its expression was remarkably up-regulated at the gene, protein, and enzymatic activity levels during the replicative senescence of cultured HSF. Further, the activity of NEP was markedly enhanced in a pattern similar to elastase activity during the intrinsic aging of mouse skin, in UVA-exposed HSF as well as in HSF treated with conditioned medium from UVB-exposed human keratinocytes. Analysis of the cytokine profile for the stimulation of NEP and HSF elastase activities in HSF demonstrated that among the 11 cytokines tested, IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, and GM-CSF had the potential to significantly stimulate both activities similarly, again supporting the identity of HSF elastase and NEP.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / pharmacology
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / enzymology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Neprilysin / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Elastase / metabolism*
  • Skin / enzymology*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*


  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Cytokines
  • Pancreatic Elastase
  • Neprilysin