Type II transmembrane serine proteases (TTSPs) are structurally defined by the presence of a transmembrane domain located near the N-terminus and a C-terminal extracellular serine protease domain. The human TTSP family consists of 17 members. Some members of the family have pivotal functions in development and homeostasis, and are involved in tumorigenesis and viral infections. The activities of TTSPs are regulated by endogenous protease inhibitors. However, protease inhibitors of most TTSPs have not yet been identified. In this study, we investigated the inhibitory effect of hepatocyte growth factor activator inhibitor type 1 (HAI-1), a Kunitz-type serine protease inhibitor, on several members of the TTSP family. We found that the protease activity of a member, TMPRSS13, was inhibited by HAI-1. A detailed analysis revealed that a soluble form of HAI-1 with one Kunitz domain (NK1) more strongly inhibited TMPRSS13 than another soluble form of HAI-1 with two Kunitz domains (NK1LK2). In addition, an in vitro protein binding assay showed that NK1 formed complexes with TMPRSS13, but NK1LK2 did not. TMPRSS13 converted single-chain pro-hepatocyte growth factor (pro-HGF) to a two-chain form in vitro, and the pro-HGF converting activity of TMPRSS13 was inhibited by NK1. The two-chain form of HGF exhibited biological activity, assessed by phosphorylation of the HGF receptor (c-Met) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase, and scattered morphology in human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line HepG2. These results suggest that TMPRSS13 functions as an HGF-converting protease, the activity of which may be regulated by HAI-1.
© 2010 The Authors Journal compilation © 2010 FEBS.